ANOTHER response that muddles a point. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines will not follow the US enforcement of a blacklist against 24 state-owned Chinese firms because we are a free country.
“We are not a vassal state of any foreign power and we will pursue our national interest,” Roque added.
The US Department of Commerce had listed 24 Chinese companies who participated in constructing artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, encroaching on the claims of others in the region.
The Philippines is embarking on a major infrastructure project, a multibillion-peso airport at Sangley point in Cavite province, with state-owned Chinese firm China Communications Construction Co., one of those in the US blacklist.
“I will be categorical, the Sangley project will continue. All other projects involving Chinese companies that are banned in the United States can continue in the Philippines,” said Roque in an online presser.
Ironic that it had to be the US, which has no direct stake in the territorial dispute, who has to lead in the symbolic gesture of opposing Chinese aggression. The Philippines, direct claimant and recipient of an assault on territorial sovereignty, engages in most paradoxical terms with the aggressor.
It is not that we don’t do business with China. We have more to profit from a bigger economy. But it is in doing business with China on the grounds of good will that we are more interested in. Fair game, that is.
To take the cue from the US blacklist is a better move, if only to send the message that the Philippines prefers the better deal; if only to convey the message in symbolic terms. The President himself admits being inutile in the face of China’s physical settlements on the West Philippine Sea islands.
How we wish the country’s leadership takes caution in hastily saying “business as usual” with China while the latter engages in in-your-face infringement on Philippine sovereignty.
“We will pursue our national interest,” Roque said. That should be a good spot from which to rethink our business standpoint with China.