Fearing for My Life as Political Tension Rises

you will know at the end of the article why this photo is of a pair of cute furry bear slippers. Courtesy of  Squidoo

I’m scared.

As tension escalates between my country, the Philippines and China over the Scarborough Shoal island, I’m getting apprehensive on my situation as a Filipino expat here in my city. The media has just been having a field day with this situation and turning it into a soap opera of sorts (rocks, bananas and games!) and of course, being in the China side – I only see one face of the news (meaning I see photos of my countrymen burning Chinese flags and the Chinese government threatening – be very afraid, we will squash you. All South China is our territory – it is an undisputable fact.) –which is actually a Hasty Generalization fallacy if you took logic because the nationalistic Chinese newscasters seldom back it up with facts. Hasty Generalization is a conclusion drawn based on biased or insufficient evidence. Just that history and records from long ago say so. But which record? Which year? Who wrote it? Is it from a reputable source? Strange, doesn’t say. This is just a few bits of what I gleamed from Xinhua news and CCTV. Whatever happened to objective journalism? Not when you’re in China,Burma or North Korea.

According to a news report I found on Tudou.com (a Chinese video sharing site—like Youtube),China has now suspended all tours to thePhilippines due to growing anti-China sentiment. Others claim it is an economic boycott. Yesterday, in Macau some Filipinos have confirmed to me that Macau has issued travel warning to its residents going to the Philippinesas well. President Aquino is unperturbed stating that ‘we don’t need Chinese tourism’. I don’t know about you Aquino but when we only have a couple of millions of visitors every year, 97,000 Chinese sounds a lot.

Reports from the Filipino expats in Macau stated that they hardly see any photos of protests or of people burning Chinese flags in our Philippine T.V. network and yet these are the photos being continuously flashed and broadcasted on an hourly basis in Chinese sites like CCTV, Tudou and Xinhua.

Compare the two pieces of news:

From China Daily

Hong Lei, spokesman of Chinese Foreign Ministry, said, “HuangyanIslandis an inalienable part of China’s territory. We demand the Philippines refrain from any more actions that will complicate, amplify or internationalize the situation.”

From Yahoo Philippine news which never made its way to the state backed media

Philippine President Benigno Aquino’s spokesman, Edwin Lacierda, told reporters the government did not have a hand in organising the protest.

“It was a decision taken by private citizens who feel out of patriotism that they have to speak on the issue,” Lacierda said, adding they were exercising their constitutional right to free expression and peaceful assembly.

And now some countries are jumping in the bandwagon

JapanTimes:

China Lays Claim on Sekaku Islands/Diaoyu Islands– Yes, China just wants everything

“I want to reiterate that the DiaoyuIslands have been China‘s inherent territory since ancient times and China holds indisputable sovereignty over them,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a regular news briefing. (Commentary: Haven’t we heard this too many times? See China Daily above. )

Ishihara said in Washingtonon Monday that the Tokyo Metropolitan Government is negotiating with the owner of three major islands in the uninhabited chain.

On Tuesday, Ishihara added thatBeijing’s dispatch of fishery patrol boats to their vicinity is “halfway to a declaration of war” againstJapan.

On a note, I do wonder why this never made international headlines? Japan-China war? Both sides could lose a lot. But Philippine-China war? Philippines loses and China hardly breaks a sweat. International coverage to boost China’s image.

The Times of India

Admitting Indian concern about the events, the MEA spokesperson said, “Maintenance of peace and security in the region is of vital interest to the international community. India urges both countries to exercise restraint and resolve the issue diplomatically according to principles of international law.”

It is becoming an international drama that can beat any soap.

Netizens from China will be surprised to learn that some of the Filipinos I talked to bear no animosity towards this whole thing but rather want it to be resolved as quickly and peacefully as possible. They shouldn’t worry as Filipinos are also focused on voting for America Idol Jessica Sanchez. That said Chinese netizens only believe what the one sided media brainwashes them to believe. We should view the news on both sides and other objective sources. Look, all we want to do is to continue to earn money so we can send money home to put food on the tables of our families, to build a roof over their heads and send our kids to school. How can we do that if war (Heaven forbid) was declared and there is nobody to receive money? Or for that matter there is no money to be sent because mothers and fathers have disappeared into the depths of a Chinese black jail?

This is a worst case scenario but a government with its volumes of bad human rights records like Chinacan do whatever it wants. Even if the UN intervenes, it might be too late for some. When the Tibet  and Xinjiang riots  and the Jasmine revolution happened, it was a blackout of information inChina. These were the reasons Facebook and Youtube were blocked- because they were telling a side the government doesn’t want people to see. There was little access to news for a while. Rumors abound that the Chinese government promised rewards to people during the Tibetan riots to betray their leaders otherwise people would start disappearing one by one. Some Han Chinese were foaming venom in their mouths against the Dalai Lama, ‘that he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing’ and that the whole world was against China. People were taken away, disappeared. There was a disturbing ghostly hush of silence that settled over the whole region. And then slowly life returned to normal.

A conspiracy theory that’s circulating around is that China is using and hyping this territorial dispute to hide behind the growing negative press it’s been receiving on it’s — you guess it – human rights record. Here are the following tales that naturally never made its way to Mainland waters of media but once was all over the international community news. Thanks to Philippines-China dispute, they have been eclipsed (You’re probably so happy aren’t you, Chinese government?)

Homer Simpson Made by Prisoners. Doh!

Photo by Squidoo. And yes, these novelty  slippers made by slaves are still in the market. Now you’ve also solved the mystery of the cute bear slippers photo

According to People’s Liberation Army, the Chinese government ‘never tolerate any unreasonable embarrassment with blind patience, not to mention that the issue matters for China‘s territorial integrity, national dignity, and even social stability. 

Hence in keeping up with not ‘tolerating any unreasonable embarrassment’ and not to destabilize ‘China’s national dignity and social stability’ i.e. lose major face, it’s been very aggressive with the island dispute and kept threatening war like a big bully who knows to regain the face it had lost and also to distract the international community from its recent blunders. (Damien Grammaticas of BBC, 2012)

Wise move, Chinese government. Wise move.

After watching the China Slave Trade documentary I was very disturbed that prisoners were forced to create the products we were using. How can we have a future world superpower that is a cruel dictator for its own citizens? We are increasingly seeing leaders bowing to the growing despotic reign and turning a blind eye to how badly it treats its very own. It’s like receiving food knowing it was made with blood, sweat and tears of a mother in chains. It’s like receiving a million dollars knowing you approved murdering a baby for that. How can one have that in his conscience?

That said, I have a growing admiration to the activists in China. It’s no Burma VJ (ironically, available for download in Tudou) nor you’d see monks parading with bowls upside down any time soon but the activists are there. They’re risking their lives just to report abuse done to their families, to seek justice, to tell the truth. Dissidents in China! Don’t give up! Continue the fight! Soon we will see a China that is a protector of human rights. I know it’s a long way off but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen.

Tension continues but I’m thankful I was able to exit Mainland China and enter it again without animosity. I’m thankful Filipinos in Mainland and Macau are okay, for now. I have not heard of other violent accounts. But if this worsens, who knows what will happen?

We can only pray for peace and diplomacy from both sides. And I’m praying.

Photo by shutterstock

Other References

Ardaiolo, Michael. China and Philippines Square Off over Huangyan Island. The Shanghaiist.

Balanza, Robert M. RP China Tension Cooling Down. The Durian Post Online

5 thoughts on “Fearing for My Life as Political Tension Rises

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