Chinese expansionism

CHINA has reportedly installed facilities for a missile strike in the Philippine’s side of the disputed South China Sea. The Philippine Navy estimates that the facilities can be operational in three months. Pro-Chinese Filipino officials claim that the missiles are not pointed at the Philippines as if the missile launching pads are stuck to one direction. The Philippine Navy said they have interceptors, but how many? Are they enough to prevent missiles from devastating the country?

For years China has set its eyes on the Philippine Sea that had been proven in the international court to be Philippine territory but China refuses to accept that decision and uses its military might to bully the Philippines from enforcing its rights.

Now it is using its economic clout to entice the Philippines not to outright demand the removal of its missiles but to just keep on making statements against them. In return it has befriended President Duterte with offers of economic aid, loans and investments. But as one commentator warned, “don’t trust China with those financial offers.” But Duterte wants to be close to China as a counter-balance to the US that he accuses of unfriendly acts for the US criticisms of Duterte’s human rights record.

China needs to expand to survive and the Philippines is an easy target – close, weak and “friendly”. Martin Jacques whose 2009 book, “When China Rules the World” I had quoted before, has a grim assessment of China’s rapid development that bears on this subject of expansionism.

“China is increasingly dependent on the rest of the world for the huge quantities of raw materials that it needs for its economic growth. It is already the world’s largest buyer of copper, the second biggest buyer of iron ore, the third largest buyer of alumina. It absorbs close to a third of global supply of coal, steel and cotton, and almost half of its cement. It is the second largest energy consumer after the US, with nearly 70 per cent produced from burning coal. In 2005, China used more coal than the US, India and Russian combined. In 2004 it accounted for nearly 40 per cent of the increase in the world demand for oil. If the Chinese was to continue to expand at 8 per cent a year in the future, its income per head would reach the current US level in 2031, at which it would consume the equivalent of two-thirds of current world grain harvest and its demand for paper would double the world’s current production. If it were to enjoy the same level of per capita car ownership as the US does today,  it would have 1.1 billion cars compared with the worldwide total of 800 million; and it would use 99 million barrels of oil a day compared with a worldwide total of production of 84 million barrels per day in 2006. Of course, such a level of demand would be unsustainable in terms of the world’s available resources, not to mention its global environmental impact, which is dire.”

These are not just estimates but projections and we are already feeling the impact of China’s needs. The Western countries were able to expand their economies without harming or exhausting their natural resources because they had colonies to provide the raw materials and absorb their outputs. Japan had the same idea at the turn of the 20th century and embarked on expansionism in 1936 with its slogan, “East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”, its euphemism for Japanese colonies like the Philippines.

Martin’s book was published nine years ago and we are now seeing the movement of China to expand and secure a new kind of colonies, dissimilar to the concept and methods as the Western colonizers but colonization nevertheless.

A few years ago a report said that China wanted to lease one million hectares in the Philippines that it will cultivate for food production. That is not for local consumption but to help feed the billions of Chinese. Although China has large tracts of land not all are suitable for agriculture and their water source for agriculture is limited. It must expand.

A report said that real estate prices in the Philippines are rising fast; one reason is that Chinese investors are buying land. Caveat emptor is still an excellent policy.

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