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New normal

A NEWSFUL time it was to be in China. President Duterte and a top-heavy delegation of officials, politicians, businessmen, and Chinese-Filipinos had just left Beijing. Chinese President Xi Jinping was presiding over the annual plenum of the Communist Party when he announced a stricter code of conduct for party members while continuing the crackdown on corruption. As the newsmaking days unfolded, Senator Cynthia Villar arrived with nine NP congresspersons from Manila to learn and discover what the “new normal” in China is all about.

“China needs more caregivers as the aging population grows,” said Junying Song, a ranking official of the Center for International Studies. Given that the three-decades-old one-child policy has produced families where the lone son or daughter is expected to support and take care of his/her elderly parents, the Chinese cannot have enough caregivers, now more than ever. (Hong Kong with its 350,000 documented and 200,000 undocumented OFWs, many of them carers, can take care of themselves, in a manner of speaking.)

Admitting that China must “deepen (its) opening up, go-out strategy” in the wake of widening globalization even as the global economy is slow in recovering, Mr. Song extolled the virtues of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative that is expected to stimulate the economies of countries in Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, South Pacific, Latin America, and Europe. Aha, the “silver road” in the Philippines connects East and West via the South China Sea.

China also depends on exports, and here the visiting legislators were struck by how Chinese exports to the Philippines grew to US$21 billion while imports from the Philippines were a mere $7.7B in the last 10 months. Those 13 MOUs signed by the two Presidents last month will be financed by the Export-Import Bank of China, government to government, and not by the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank, of which the Philippines is among 57 members.

Mr. Song was swamped with questions when he opined that ties between Manila and Beijing have been “completely repaired” after Mr. Duterte’s visit. At the end of the day, he said, “we agreed to expand cooperation between the two Coast Guards.” Later that night, the news on TV was that Filipino fishermen were back fishing in Scarborough Shoal.
(Jullie Y. Daza)