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Beijing’s Sinister Offer Manila Does Not Refuse

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on December 8, 2018 19:42

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China’s Winnie the Pooh cloaks as a doctor and visits a sick old man in the Philippines.

“Some people care too much. I think it’s called love,” said Winnie the Pooh. But what if Winnie becomes a meanie, and cloaks himself as a quack doctor, visiting an ailing grandpa, offering a cure for his illness, a cure that it takes generations to repay the cost, plus, letting him sign an agreement to give up his backyard?

My apologies to Winnie the Pooh, but in my opinion, it’s a wickedly smart move replete with evil intentions. Unfortunately, grandpa’s gullible enough to receive the offered cure and ordered his children to draft the agreement, pandering to the quack’s demands, giving up a portion of his property.

This is the picture of the two-day state visit of China’s president Xi Jinping to the Philippines on November 21-22. Xi is Winnie the Pooh, and Rodrigo Duterte the sick old man who has wrecked the country’s economy, killed thousands of people and given up a territory to a foreign power in less than three years of his presidency. It appears that Xi has the upper hand over Duterte.

China has been aggressive in the last ten years in its pursuit to dominate the region both economically and militarily, particularly in its stance on the disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea).

While China found Benigno Aquino III stubborn in resisting its incursion in the Spratlys, it has an ally in former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and in the sitting president, offering the Philippines money to fund Duterte’s infrastructure projects dubbed as “Build, Build, Build” program.

The Chinese will provide the funding, materials, and labor to carry out the construction projects, then the Filipinos will pay the loan at a much higher cost, which is not only usurious but also ridiculous at 2-3 percent interest rate. That is at least 3 times more expensive, or 12 times at most, than Japan’s at 0.25-0.75 percent.

Beijing’s reasoning for this seems to be that the Philippines is one of the risky states to lend money to, resulting in expensive loan interests. However, the truth is that the country has gained an investment grade status way back in 2013. And as of 2018, Moody’s has set the Philippines’ credit rating at Baa2, and Standard & Poor’s BBB with a stable and positive outlook respectively.

Critics called Beijing’s strategy “debt-trap diplomacy,” where China buries countries like Sri Lanka, Venezuela, and Turkmenistan in debts to exercise might and expand its economic outreach.

Beijing, of course, denied that China engages in “debt-trap diplomacy.” And who would not? No one in his right mind admits the accusation and say, “Hey, I will lend you money, more money in a way that you cannot repay so I’ll get a piece of your territory as a collateral.”

Meanie Winnie loves to wear that sinister smile as he retreats to his summer palace knowing that his offer is indeed a trap, and the sick old man willing to take the bait.

Kelvene Requiroso

Posted on December 8, 2018 19:42

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Source: Quartz

Since Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte came to power in 2016, he’s been noticeably warm to China, and cold to the country’s...

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