THE CHINESE VOICE IN ASIA ON THE DISPUTED SOUTH CHINA SEA by Jesus Lim Arranza
I AM FOR PEACE! And amidst the territorial dispute involving several Asian nations on some South China Sea islands including the Philippine Claimed West Philippine Sea, I pray for all the Chinese people in Asia, especially those who struck professional and business success in their adopted Asian country and have extended their influence, resources and investments to China, to help convince China’s leadership to consider a peaceful resolution on the issue. Regional peace in Asia after all, will benefit not only the Asians, but the whole world as well.
Yes, the Chinese people are virtually the first migrant workers of the world. During the Qing China internal crisis in the mid-19th century, millions of its people left China for other Asian countries to escape famine, an increasingly impoverished rural population, heavy taxes, inflation and greedy local officials. Many of them left China with nothing but a few clothes and sheer determination to succeed and change their lives. Those that left China with money started their business in their adopted Asian country. Some found jobs, while there were those who gathered empty bottles and junk materials to survive. We saw this in the Philippines.
But all the while, even during their most challenging years, many of them sent money to their relatives back in China. Thus, the early Chinese migrants in Asia practically helped in building up China’s current economic power.
Today, Chinese businesses practically hold much of the Asian economy. From manufacturing, trading, property development, power, gaming, transportation, mall operation and telecommunications, name it, Chinese businessmen are there, not as ordinary players, but major ones at that. Indeed, Asia has been good to the early Chinese migrants, not only in terms of welcoming them during the lowest moments of their lives, but in providing them with the opportunities to succeed as well.
The South China territorial dispute is a present danger that could affect the regional peace we now enjoy in Asia. In the case of the Philippines, its relationship with China has been further strained with China’s recent pronouncement that it will not follow an order from the International Court on Arbitration for them to stop the constructions at the disputed West Philippine Sea, should there be one. The Philippine government has filed an arbitration case at the international court against China’s constructions at the Philippine claimed West Philippine Sea.
A full blown conflict in the South China would be devastating for the region. For the Philippines for instance, we do not a stand a chance against China’s military might. Our only hope is for a peaceful resolution of the conflict. We cannot even fully rely on our big brother, the United States of America, should the situation escalate into a full blown conflict.
Chinese Voice in Asia Could Matter
In the midst of the South China Sea conflict involving several nations, the Chinese voice in Asia might help in preserving peace in the region. Although this is a matter of personal conviction, perhaps, their suggestions or at least, opinion on the issue could be considered by China’s leadership. With their vast resources, influence, business interests and network in China, their ideas and suggestions might be considered. Who knows?
After all, everything they’ve worked for, the long work hours and sacrifices when they were just starting their businesses in Asia which are now global conglomerations, could vanish in a full blown conflict triggered by the South China Sea dispute. And most importantly, hundreds of thousands of lives could be lost in a full blown Asian war. All these make it even more imperative for the influential Chinese community in Asia to help resolve the South China Sea conflict peacefully by saying their piece on the issue to China’s leadership.