“Hey, Joe, lighten up on the Chinese coming to the Philippines to work. They are innocents”

Any problem if these workers at a Philippine construction site are Chinese nationals? [Photo source: South China Morning Post]

By Joe America

Here are excerpts from a recent Twitter engagement

JoeAm: Question for news orgs @rapplerdotcom and others, do Immigration records reflect a sharp uptick of Chinese nationals arriving? Question arose on my FB page.

Carlos Jugo: Just because we are Opposition we should take care not to be xenophobic. Duterte will not be around forever but China will always be our neighbor.

. . .

Carlos Jugo: These China nationals who are here are mostly also just trying to earn a living, hardly aware of geopolitics. I believe we should welcome them and that we would be the better for it.

JoeAm: And if China allowed Filipino fishermen to work Philippine seas in the same spirit, I would wholeheartedly agree. Until there is mutual respect, there will be friction, unfair to individuals.

Carlos Jugo: Sometimes we have to take the higher ground, if only to minimize collateral damage.

The discussion frames a somewhat intricate question about how one sorts out government deeds from those of citizens, and how the Philippines should deal with more active Chinese engagements in the Philippines.

It is a challenging topic for me because I tend to resist the transfer of Philippine allegiance to China. I don’t trust China, the nation that said it would remove its vessels from Scarborough if the Philippines also withdrew. China did not abide by the agreement. China also said it would not militarize its artificial islands in the South China and West Philippine Seas, but did.

I’d rather see a truly independent Philippines than one tied to a nation prone to abuse.

I agree that any political debate ought to take care to differentiate a government’s acts from those of citizens lest one prove xenophobic.

Yet, all nations run an immigration system to monitor and manage the inflow of non-citizens. Why do they do that? They do it to preserve job opportunities for their own citizens, or to avoid being overwhelmed by foreigners who may not share the nation’s cultural values or abide by its laws.

What was my implied criticism when I asked the question: “. . . do Immigration records reflect a sharp uptick of Chinese nationals arriving?”

I did not intend to be critical of the arriving Chinese workers, as individuals. My criticism was of a Philippine government immigration policy that MAY NOT be properly protecting Filipino jobs and rights. It depends on what the facts show. We know that China is being granted generous economic rights in the Philippines, to rebuild Marawi, to place a casino in Boracay, to fish the seas, to extract ores and do farming, to build infrastructure using Chinese workers.

How dominant will we allow such activities to become?

Is there any fear that Filipinos will become, as Malays did in Singapore, a worker class to a Chinese power structure?

It is not a problem only for the Philippines. Read about the issue in Malaysia: “Selling the country to China? Debate spills into Malaysia’s election”.

I would see hordes of Chinese workers in the Philippines as a failure of Philippine government IF Filipinos are qualified for the jobs being filled (construction, probably qualified; Chinese language BPO, perhaps not).

It is China’s duty to assure jobs for China’s citizens. It is the Philippine’s duty to assure jobs for Filipino citizens.

It is my ‘job’ to question whether or not government is performing its duties competently.

That’s not xenophobic. That’s responsible.

That’s my take on it.

What do you think about the subject?

. . . . .


26 Responses to ““Hey, Joe, lighten up on the Chinese coming to the Philippines to work. They are innocents””
  1. karlgarcia says:

    CVJ has been opining for so long that we accept foreign doctos, teachers, etc.
    At one point he convinced me that it is xenophobic to think that they should not be allowed to work here.
    I understand that that he had been an OFW from Singapore for so many years.
    The influx of foreign workers is sort of reverse diaspora.
    But if the Chinese would use Chinese workers for infra that would be a different story, it isnot xenophobia if you complain.

  2. alicia m. kruger says:

    Japanese traders and others doing all sorts of jobs who were living in the Philippines before the second world war became officers in the Japanese Imperial Army when the war broke out. And of course they knew who and where the families of the Philippines army were. They were easy pickings, rounded up and tortured and eventually killed.

    There might not be another world war, God forbids, but I see similar pattern of atrocities against the country happening. By the time everyone wakes up, the country would be up to its neck in debt to China and would have been stripped off its dignity and natural resources completely.

    • Yes, there is an essential unfairness to it, a bigotry TOWARD Filipinos, to allow a nation that is known for its racial bias to slide into the Philippines essentially above the local population. I can see an advantage to the Philippines of straightforward business deals, of Chinese language BPO’s or technology assistance. But to sneak a casino into Boracay at the penalty of locals, or to rebuild Marawi without input from locals . . . very sneaky, very non-transparent, very punitive toward Filipinos.

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. In “Thinking Conundrums,” I highlighted 3 defects in Filipino thinking: (a) Categorization; (b) Scoping; and (c) Erroneous reasoning.

    1.1. I said, “By categorization, I meant classifying a problem under the proper domain.”

    2. If there is an unexplained influx of Chinese nationals into the country, how would one classify the problem?

    2.1. Is it a matter of border control as Joe Am would have it? Or is it a matter of racial prejudice as Carlos Jugo would have it?

    3. Joe Am’s question does not reveal the slightest suggestion of xenophobia, defined as “fear or hatred of foreigners.” He is merely asking whether it is a fact that immigration has recorded an uptick of Chinese nationals coming in.

    4. Carlos Jugo’s attempt to ascribe racial prejudice to the question is unwarranted. He is guilty of two things:

    4.1. Deflection by putting forward the strawman argument of xenophobia
    4.2. Miscategorization of the issue

    5. Mr. Jugo’s error in categorization necessarily leads to scoping and logic errors.

    5.1. In terms of scoping, he uses moral arguments — the observance of “neighborliness” and taking “the higher ground” — when it is not necessary to do so. The proper scoping of the problem would be establishing:

    5.1.1. whether there is indeed an inordinate influx of Chinese nationals
    5.1.2. whether they are here legally
    5.1.3. whether their activities are in accordance with their visas.

    5.2. Note that Mr. Jugo grants that there is an influx.

    5.3. Note further that Joe Am’s rebuttal of Mr. Jugo’s neighborliness argument is deft. There must be mutual respect.

    5.4. Mr. Jugo’s counter rebuttal of taking the higher ground is weak and goes nowhere. It proposes a path of appeasement. A path which has seen the unconscionable seizure, control, and militarization of WPS features.

    6. Referee verdict: Knockout in two rounds in favor of Joe Am.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    Feel free to chime in.

  5. There are a number of aspects here:

    1) what alicia m kruger wrote is true. A grade school Filipino teacher told us that these Japanese even were in uniform the day after occupation, they had always been sleepers so to speak.

    2) From over here, the Russian tactic of full deniability in wresting Crimea from the Ukraine is not forgotten. Soldiers in unmarked uniforms with full equipment all of a sudden were there.

    3) One should not forget that the Chinese copy Russian methods. The Chinese trolls did not surprise me as Russian trolls were all over European media during various crises here. Similar.

    4) One aspect of Russian mindset is to claim protection of their own citizens abroad to intervene. Sassots recent asides re Kuwait were similar, if not to be taken seriously. But think further.. what if there was a provocation between Pinoys and Chinese somewhere, what would happen then?

    5) Individuals are never an issue. Germany has a large population of Russian-Germans, for one. But collectively Putin’s propaganda can manipulate them. Just as Erdogan tries to manipulate the Turks over here – or other forces will try to manipulate the different Arab groups that are here now.

    6) Chinese racism towards brown-skinned Filipinos was always there. There are unfortunately even some Chinese-Filipinos with such attitudes. A Filipina I know told Americans once: “there are two kinds of Filipinos, the dark ones, whaddaya call ’em, Malays, and the Chinese-looking ones”. This in a languid, dismissive, high society kind of tone. It seems the newer Chinese-origin Filipinos did stay a group apart, unlike the older groups that are just part of Philippine society – Ongpin, Cojuangco..

    7) A certain pushiness towards mestizos (Spanish and other European blends) and Westernized Filipinos, something already there to some extent in Marcos days (one should remember that then was the mass naturalization of postwar Chinese, in 1975) is back. Against potential power rivals. Since native, non-Westernized Filipinos have not yet really been in control of things yet – except for Duterte as a puppet of China, or Nancy Binay who is cleverly positioning herself towards patriotism – only those who have practice in dealing with power are seen as a real threat to any ambitions.

    8) It is laudable that Filipinos never were truly xenophobic. Probably an archipelago that is quite isolated from the world never fostered the “fear of guests” (literal Greek meaning of xenophobia) one might have in places like Europe, were guests came and stayed to control entire countries. Both Spaniards and Americans were smart enough to let local elites run things for their interests. But considering how both colonial powers handled the first Native Americans they dealt with – those on the Atlantic seaboard, i.e. New England and the Carribean, or how the Chinese deal with Uigurs and Tibetans, how the Taiwanese displaced the Ivatan-related Taiwan aborigines, possibly this still laudable innocence might be dangerous. When I think of tokhang targetting the poor and dark, the Lumads under threat of bombardment, the Moros also – what future threats could yet come?

    9) there are around 10 million jobless Filipinos. Skill them up first before getting other workers. Of course there was Point 5 in Duterte’s original election program http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/programa-ni-duterte/ which was about “Creation of Free Zone-type “business islands” to encourage investment and create jobs.” Rent out entire areas to the Chinese, maybe? Filipinos as second-class citizens and OFWs in their own country, possibly? There was already a similar wave of doubts (not protests as not possible) when Marcos first instituted the idea of EPZAs which now evolved into PEZA. Not the long-term way to succeed.

    But what if powerful Filipinos only care if they have their cut and middle-class Filipinos only care if they have a job? And some might even speculate to become “Insular Chinese” by learning Mandarin, provided they have the pure bloodline, somewhat like Spanish Insulares in the past?

    Chinese casino activities in Boracay already remind me of Cuba in the time of pro-USA Batista. That country was a paradise for Mafiosi (Las Vegas etc.) coming over from the mainland neighbor. Except that the Chinese, by all we know them for, may not let go of what they have once they do.

    • “But what if powerful Filipinos only care if they have their cut and middle-class Filipinos only care if they have a job?”

      That seems to be the way it works, and the desire for ‘their cut’ means they will play games, like attack President Aquino on dengvaxia. I once gave Ejercito the benefit of the doubt, but he clearly believes his bread is buttered by Duterte, not Filipino well-being.

      • edgar lores says:

        I do recall your giving JV Ejercito the benefit of the doubt. You asked for my opinion, and I recall I didn’t answer — couldn’t — because I had insufficient input. My reaction though was one of skepticism, with the thought that the fruit does not fall from the tree.

        I saw JV’s pumped up reaction to Duterte’s endorsement of his — and Jinggoy’s — candidacy on TV. I was nauseated.

  6. NHerrera says:

    Certainly Singapore will not have a flood of foreign workers coming in when Singaporeans can do the work.

    Why is it that I am bothered that there may be a tacit agreement (behind the scenes or not-so-behind the scenes) that Chinese workers of all kinds be allowed to work here — whether or not these types of work are available in the Philippines which is suffering from high unemployment hence the OFW diaspora — in exchange, for the Chinese not-so-cheap loans? Is it possible DFA Sec Cayetano is not aware of this in the same way he was not aware of the OFW rescue in Kuwait before it happened? He whose heart — like his Boss — so bleeds for Filipino OFW so much as to tell the OFWs in Kuwait to go home and find work here.

    There must be some Cayetano logic to explain this. But I am not a believer in his logic anymore. His logic at the Senate Binay Investigation is one; and his logic about Foreign Affairs of great interest to the Philippines is another matter. Pliant logic?

  7. A FB follower dropped off the following link about Myanmar’s troubled assimilation of Chinese residents and ‘bosses’. Is this a xenophobic news article?


    • edgar lores says:

      I don’t find it so. It’s describing the effect and the reality of Chinese influx in Myanmar and Thailand.

      I wonder if China is deliberately conducting a sinicization (in particular, a Hanization) campaign abroad, as it seems to be doing in Tibet and Uighur.

      It would run parallel to the Muslim attempt to conquer the world through migration and reproduction.

      However, the Chinese approach is more sophisticated and successful. The approach is to assimilate to some degree, and appropriate and control the economic arteries of the nation. In the process, the local population is sidelined as a pool of cheap labor and captive consumers.

      The question is whether the migrant Chinese owe some loyalty to the motherland, and whether they act as a fifth column per Alicia’s post. I believe the loyalty tends to fade in the succeeding generations per NHerrera’s sentiments. However, there is some evidence in Oz that the Chinese Communist Party maintains links with some of their overseas migrants.

      • I can imagine that the assimilation program, which is indeed sophisticated, will figure out how to obtain and nurture the loyalties of the Filipino-Chinese oligarchs, including them in the ruling class, whilst the rest of the borg is hooked up to productive and subservient enterprises. Pardon the cynicism.

    • NHerrera says:

      The Chef punching and pinning the waitress to the floor is no small matter for one chicharon. This, from the city’s Police Chief, Senior Supt. Leon Victor Rosete: “Taer simply wanted to taste the chicharon Yongbin was cooking. It took the Chinese by surprise, that’s why he hit her.” Now isn’t that just nice of the Police Chief to intercede in behalf of the chef. Handling the Chinese with Kid Gloves may become a trend hereabouts.

  8. Mac McCarty says:

    It’s not xenophobia, Joe, it’s development economics. One of the failures of Noy’s administration was that far too much of its laudable economic gains either got sown into the casinos of the financial market or–case in point–high-value real estate developments. These things produce sustainable economic growth only for the rich.

    Construction work is itself much less sustainable. But it’s like the oil booms I saw as a kid in Texas (or the logging business here in the 70s & 80s). While the wells are being drilled or the trees are being cut, there are some good jobs to be had–which can be a real game changer for a breadwinner trying to dig his family out of the cycles of generational poverty–but eventually, the wells are drilled, the trees are cut, the condos & malls are overbuilt to the point of glut & from that point on, what we see is the moderately rich paying the even richer rent-seekers. A surplus of commercial or residential property slows down investment gains, but surplus labor sends 2nd quintile folks back into poverty. The rich have their buildings to keep, but the worker’s money is spent & gone.

    This is system is *already* far from ideal. But the introduction of Chinese labor into public & private development projects is far worse. It converts the putative economic gains of the country into economic gains for China’s surplus labor. We solve China’s problems by making our own worse.

    Along our coasts, Filipino fisherfolk are already selling their boats & buying tricycles as a result of Chinese incursions on our fishing grounds (look at how Indonesia takes a hard line with Chinese fishing incursions the next time Du30 says “War with China? What can I do…also Vietnam). So, borrowing money (at unfavorable interest rates) from China, only to use that chunk of lasting debt to pay off *China’s* surplus labor is hardly a road to improving our economic situation.

    I can think of bargains that could be put on the table that would make this sorry situation less onerous, but neither China nor Du30 are interested in any of that.

    There is a great deal of irony here. The US propelled itself into its present position of economic power by many of the same methods China is using now. Yet Du30 curses American colonialism (& neocolonialism, if he knows the meaning of that word) while at the same time throwing the Philippines at the feet of Chinese neocolonialism. As long as we have a gov’t run by greedy amateurs, unfortunately, that’s what we have to look forward to.

    Borrowing huge sums from China & paying those sums back to China for goods & labor beggars the Filipino people. It’s an economic disaster, & another step toward obliterating our sovereignty.

    • Micha says:

      @Mac McCarty

      Excellent observations.

      It was not too long ago when protests groups would carry placards that says, “No to WB-IMF loans!” They were progressive groups who have seen (correctly) the pitfalls of being hugely indebted to a foreign currency. It did not only diminished our sovereignty, it was also the main object of Imelda’s kleptomaniacal tendencies.

      Why those groups are now seemingly silent on the proposal by this current fascist regime to obtain huge sums from Chinese banks to finance its ambitious infrastructure projects is unsettling.

      The same scheme is obviously at play here when the conjugal dictatorship borrowed huge sums from abroad, bragged about it as diplomatic accomplishments and erected infra projects as cover for stealing half of the amount.

      Only difference is that this time the loot will most likely be partitioned amongst Rodrigo’s family, friends and cronies.

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