By Herman Tiu Laurel
Another cycle of black propaganda against Philippine-China cooperation projects has begun.
This time starting with leftist turned party-list representative turned U.S. patsy under the care of the Stratbase ADR Institute – Terry Ridon who has a brand-new NGO called InfrawatchPH tasked with maligning Philippine-China projects.
Ridon joins the usual suspects Richard Heydarian, Renato de Castro, Jay Batongbacal, and the other wards of the ADRI and company.
The new anti-China campaign coincides with an exposé in Africa of a similar black propaganda against Chinese projects there. All these follow last April’s US notice of a $ 300-million anti-China media campaign kitty.
The Zimbabwe Herald headlined Sept. 21, 2021 the US Embassy’s “$1,000 USD per anti-China story”. China’s Belt and Road initiative in Africa is full steam ahead and praised by African peoples, see former Liberian Finance Minster Gyude Moore here: https://youtu.be/P5uzxV8ub9k.
Ridon’s report is headlined by Manny Pangilinan press-titute Business World (BW) as “China-funded projects may face scrutiny after Duterte leaves”. For Ridon and BW’s information, China-funded projects have always received the most meticulous scrutiny from the US-influenced media since their inception and all continue to pass muster despite repeated efforts of Ridon and BW’s ilk to malign and sabotage the projects.
$25-Billion Philippine-China deals
The frequent chorus of the US-funded hacks and talking heads is that China has not delivered on the $ 25-Billion deal signed with China since 2016.
Some of these complaints are due simply to lack of understanding while others are from pure spite and mercenary interests. It will be helpful to go back to the original details of the agreements from the horses’ mouth so to speak – Secretary Ramon Lopez.
In October 2016 Secretary Ramon Lopez is quoted by Philippine media clarifying: “Based on the numbers we are putting together now, in terms of investments, credit facilities opened, $ 24 billion” and of that as reported “$ 15-billion accounts for company-to-company deals, while $ 9-billion pertains to loans from credit facilities to be made available to businesses, development projects, and infrastructures that ‘cut across different industries’” from agriculture to energy, tourism, etc.
Ridon, Heydarian et al omits huge on-going investments such as the DITO Telecoms project with China Telecoms amounting to $ 5-Billion when completed to improve the Philippine telecoms sector, or the $ 4.4-billion integrated steel complex in Mindanao with China’s HBIS Group, Panhua and local Steel Asia with the PhiViDeC which is on-going.
These two projects alone would cover almost half the commitment – but there’s so much more on stream projects besides these two.
Obstructionism and sabotage
The BW article quotes the Western funded Bayan Muna front Ibon Foundation’s Sonny Africa who said, “After five long years, the Duterte administration has clinched just five projects worth P 48-Billion…”
Africa describes China’s investments and loans as just a “sliver” compared to Japan’s. The truth is Japan has been around for 70-years but its procedures are no shorter that China’s or other aid and loan portfolios, China is just starting its assistance. And whoever said this was a race?
Even a small business project funding project submitted to the Department of Trade has to go through a long, tedious process of discussion, project study, memo of understanding or agreement or both, contract signing, commissioning.
The projects with China that started with the goodwill agreement between President Xi Jinping and President Rodrigo R. Duterte naturally has to go to many stages of vetting, studies, funding and construction contracts, environmental clearances and so on.
There are countless efforts by the enemies of the Philippines and China to obstruct and scuttle the undoubtedly beneficial Philippine-China projects. Efforts such as disinformation as Ridon is doing, lawfare (war using legalities) to delay like Colmenares bringing Chico and Kaliwa Dams to court, physical obstruction (pickets, demos), political interference (Hontiveros, Gordon probes, political blackmail like Gov. Suarez), all without thought of the long term public good.
Projects progressing rapidly
Many projects are proceeding smoothly but go unreported locally. We got this report from Chinese social media, that China Harbor on December 29, 2020 won the bid for the Subic-Clark railway project in the Philippines, construction of a 71-km single-track standard gauge freight railway, with construction period is 42 months.
This is part of the P 45-billion (nearly $ 1-billion) undertaking funded by a low-interest loan from China.
Even at the height of the pandemic the projects have kept moving apace.
On July 30, 2021 the P 1.2-billion Estrella-Pantaleon Bridge opened to accommodate up to 50,000 vehicles a day after constant personal monitoring visits of Ambassador Huang Xilian through the pandemic crisis.
The other donated bridge, the P 3.39-billion Binondo-Intramuros is expected to be opened by 1st qtr. of 2022 and serve 30,000 vehicles a day.
The P12.2-billion Kaliwa Dam project with its 21.7 km. of large diameter tunnels and pipes to supply 600-million liters to thirsty Metro-Manila and Rizal, overcoming self-interested indigenous tribes’ (IPs)and provincial politicos’ opposition, is projected to start excavation in December 2021. The $ 4.37-billion Chico River irrigation project started in 2018 and this year revenue-sharing formula with farmers and IPs was finalized in July and construction completion expected early 2022.
More bridges, flood control, and trains
Last August media pointed to infrastructure projects totaling $ 1.9-billion already being reviewed by China EXIM bank, including Manila port area’s North and South Harbor bridges, two-way four-lane Eastbank-Westbank Bridge linking Pasig City and Cainta City, and the two-way two-lane Palanca-Villegas Bridge across Pasig River. There’s also the Davao-Samal Bridge, Mindanao flood control such as dikes and floodgates along the Ambal-Simuay River and Rio Grande de Mindanao.
The China-led AIIB (Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank) has an existing loan of P 207.6-million approved for flood management covering over 17 percent of the total area of Metro-Manila. However, the funding agency pointed out the slow progress of the implementation on the Phlippine side. The money is ready and the people of Metro-Manila are impatient for these anti-flood projects but apparently other issue such as rights-of-way issues, and others come into play.
One of the major China-funded projects is the P 175-billion ($ 3.5-billion) PNR South Long Haul Project aka PNR Bicol or Bicol Express to stretch 639-kilometer connecting Manila to Legazpi, Matnog, Sorsogon and Batangas City cutting travel time from 12 down to six hours for both passengers and cargo. This June 2021 the DOTC already called for bids for the detailed design and construction contract. Full operability of the project is expected by 2025.
Sri Lanka “debt trap” lie is dead
In 2018 the New York Times published the piece “How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port” referring to Hambantota and China’s lease of the port after difficulties faced by Sri Lanka. To make a very long story short the NYT conjured up the “China debt trap”. All over the world the Sri Lanka debt trap crisis was cited as evidence of China’s “debt diplomacy”, in the Philippines the usual suspects Dick Pascual, Jarius Bondoc, Rappler et all constantly used this. The lie had a 3-year lifespan.
Three years later Sri Lanka found itself in a real debt trap – but to Western countries and finance institutions. Sri Lanka turned to China for $ 500-million financial lifeline instead of the IMF proving that the real culprit in Sri Lanka’s financial crisis had always been the Western countries and banks, and the IMF with all its conditionalities. China again is Sri Lanka’s savior as China has always been to third World nations.
Now that the U.S. Strategic Competition Act of 2021 added $ 300-million to information and media operations to “counter China’s influence operations” information warfare against China much like the “China debt diplomacy” of the past will be on the rise. In the Philippines its naturally coursed through the ADRI of green-card del Rosario. Maligning China’s good works just won’t fly because reality always catches up with the lies.
Philosophical Roots of China’s goodwill
The West, from which the Philippines copied its mongrel political-economic system, is not in essence “democratic” but liberal-capitalism established by the propertied class with electoral politics controlled through money. China is a professed socialist country – with Chinese characteristics – and the socialist philosophy is imbued with the scientific method and pursues the progress of Man as against the Western-capitalist model that solely and single-mindedly pursues profit for profit’s sake.
Being capitalist the US cannot help but think of itself alone, hence Trump’s “America first” or Biden’s “American at the head of the table”. China’s “Community of Shared Future for Mankind” and is built upon the spirit of ”Harmony of Civilizations”.
China’s sentiment and vision is genuine for, like the rest of the Third World, it has been victimized by the West’s nihilistic imperialism and pursues Hope in Mankind’s communitarian spirit. (Below are some recommended readings)
We, the Third World, we can rise with China in this Asian Century. The US is still trying to stop the rise not only of China but also of Asia and the rest of the Third World. Filipinos have always been one with China in the struggle to rise above Western imperialism, recall the cooperation of Mariano Ponce and China’s Dr. Sun Yat-sen. In the present day and age, we must persist in that collaboration to finally liberate Asia, and ASEAN, from the clutches of 20th Century Cold War cynicism.
Former party-list representative Terry Ridon seemed to have started his ideological life progressively, seeking social justice in the Kabataan Partylist associated with the supposedly nationalist and socialist Makabayan Party.
But for one reason or another, after being hounded by issues of corruption when he headed the urban poor commission, Ridon abandons the progressive option and chooses to become a patsy of the US-funded ADRI.
Nothing new in Philippine leftist politics.
China in Africa: The Real Story
Sri Lanka turns to China rather than IMF to avoid default Relations with US-led multilateral lender strained by past misadventures
Harmony and Chinese Diplomacy
Li Zhaoxing, Honorary President, the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs
Trump’s ‘America First’ meets China’s ‘community of common destiny’ | Opinion by Nathan Gardels