World Insights: Unfounded anxiety over China in Philippines harms people-to-people exchanges-Xinhua

World Insights: Unfounded anxiety over China in Philippines harms people-to-people exchanges

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-05-17 21:07:00

BEIJING, May 17 (Xinhua) -- Some Philippine politicians, presumably infected by their ill-intentioned U.S. counterparts, are suffering from a chronic China anxiety, which impairs their judgment on China-related matters.

This growing unease, amplified by local media and online influencers, leads to discrimination against Chinese citizens and even Filipinos of Chinese descent. Such a trend, warned experts, could hobble people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and China.

In April, intelligence agents were sent to probe the so-called "national-security threats" in Cagayan, a province at the northern tip of Luzon island, after a few Philippine politicians and lawmakers claimed that Chinese students living there could pose security threats to national security.

Teresita Ang See, the founding chairperson of the Movement for the Restoration of Peace and Order, described the swelling Sinophobia and racism stoked by reports on the influx of Chinese students in Cagayan as "dangerous and unfortunate."

"Politicians, opinion makers, our military and police scramble to ride on the issue without checking the facts," she said at a recent media forum.

Her remarks were echoed by Senator Francis Escudero, who said the Philippines' maritime disputes with China should not justify the racial slurs against Chinese students. "The territorial dispute between the Philippines and China should not deter nor affect economic, cultural, educational, and other forms of exchanges," he said.

More recently, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs said it decided to implement a stricter visa policy for Chinese nationals, as part of the efforts to fight against the "illicit entry and overstay" of foreigners in the archipelago.

The decision will undoubtedly further dampen the tourism industry. A tourist agent working in the Philippines, who wished to remain anonymous, told Xinhua that individual tourist visas granted to Chinese citizens are no more than 1,000 per day at present with 30 percent of the visa applicants being rejected.

Even more worrisome is that the unhealthy and irrational suspicion jeopardizes normal economic activities between China and the Philippines. Numerous Chinese companies in the Philippines have reported instances of harassment and misunderstanding.

Raul Lambino, chairman of the Association for Philippines-China Understanding, warned of growing Sinophobia across the country, saying that it is baseless and totally unfair to label good-hearted Filipinos as "pro-China," "pro-Chinese" or even "spies of China."

Anna Malindog-Uy, vice president of the Manila-based think tank Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute, highlighted that certain media outlets and political personalities exploited and hyped up issues involving China, seeking to discredit Philippines-China relations to push their agenda and political interests to the fore.

"Antagonism and unnecessary conflict with China would not in any way benefit," she said.