By Mauro Gia Samonte February 03, 2019

One year ago to this month, a prediction was made that by year 2050, the Philippines could be one of the richest countries in the world. The prediction was contained in an article by Tiff Conde, published by the website Esquire, with that last phrase being the title. Actually the article quotes that prediction from a report by Bill Martin in the Business Insider.

“In 33 years’ time,” writes Martin, “the global economy could more than double in size, far outstripping population growth due to continued technology-driven productivity improvements.”

According to Martin’s report, 32 countries were listed by professional services network PriceWaterhouse Coopers as the most powerful economies in the world half a century hence, based on their projected global GDP and purchasing power. Of the 32, the Philippines, says Conde, is far from the last place — at quite a comfortable 19th slot, bettering Asean neighbors Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand (at 20th, 24th and 25th, respectively), and overtaken only by Indonesia (4th) in Southeast Asia and in the Far East by South Korea and Japan (18th and 8th, respectively).

With China on top of the list, followed by India, with the United States having slipped down to 3rd, the 21st century has turned the Obama-envisaged America’s Pacific Century into a sorry shambles. That vision was elaborated in 2010 by then US State Secretary Hilary Clinton in article titled “America’s Pacific Century,” cocksure predicting that the 21st century is America’s century of domination over the Asia Pacific Region. The current scrambling by President Donald Trump in correcting US trade imbalances with trading partners, particularly China, already appears to confirm Martin’s prediction that America will slide down the scale further as the century surges to its half mark.

Below is the complete list with which the Business Insider report delineated the PWC rating of the 32 most powerful economies in the world with their corresponding GDPs (in reverse order):

32. Netherlands — $1.496 trillion
31. Colombia — $2.074 trillion
30. Poland — $2.103 trillion
29. Argentina — $2.365 trillion
28. Australia — $2.564 trillion
27. South Africa — $2.570 trillion
26. Spain — $2.732 trillion
25. Thailand — $2.782 trillion
24. Malaysia — $2.815 trillion
23. Bangladesh — $3.064 trillion
22. Canada — $3.1 trillion
21. Italy — $3.115 trillion
20. Vietnam — $3.176 trillion
19. Philippines — $3.334 trillion
18. South Korea — $3.539 trillion
17. Iran — $3.900 trillion
16. Pakistan — $4.236 trillion
15. Egypt — $4.333 trillion
14. Nigeria — $4.348 trillion
13. Saudi Arabia — $4.694 trillion
12. France — $4.705 trillion
11. Turkey — $5.184 trillion
10. United Kingdom — $5.369 trillion
9. Germany — $6.138 trillion
8. Japan — $6.779 trillion
7. Mexico — $6.863 trillion
6. Russia — $7.131 trillion
5. Brazil — $7.540 trillion
4. Indonesia — $10.502 trillion
3. United States — $34.102 trillion
2. India — $44.128 trillion
1. China — $58.499 trillion

Certainly the above figures seem good only as far as painting the rosy picture of economies go. The nitty-gritty of how those individual economies will make the prediction come true is theirs and theirs alone.

At any rate, if economic growth is dependent on markets, then there is no better guarantee for the Philippines achieving that predicted ranking as one of the world’s most powerful economies than by really integrating with China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In this world economic thrust, China has greatly succeeded in getting across to countries the world over its sincerity in achieving for all of mankind a future of shared economic benefits. If China has brought the blessing of economic growth to one of the poorest countries of Europe, all the more must it be able to help propel an Asian neighbor to a yet untouched height of economic development.

From the looks of it, President Rodrigo Duterte did the right thing in executing that dramatic turnaround in Philippine foreign policy early on in his administration. From a decades-long dependence on America in foreign relations, it opened up (as President Ferdinand E. Marcos did in the ‘70s) to socialist giant China under Duterte and instantly produced tangible results.

Hitherto embargo enforced by China on Philippine agricultural products were lifted, ditto with the ban on Chinese tourists to the country. By now, the Chinese have dislodged Koreans from the number one slot in foreign tourist arrivals in the country. The latest figures made available to this column put economic benefits from China (infrastructure funds, business investments, loans and grants) as having already amounted to $25 billion, and counting.

In one of my past columns, I wrote that no nation comes to world prosperity if not by China. It was no hyperbole. Indeed, how do you beat the economic pragmatism inherent in the Chinese nation? What bigger market is there in the world than China’s awesome 1.8 billion population?

For instance, thousands upon thousands of English teachers are needed by China’s burgeoning sector of technocrats to achieve better competitiveness in the world. China has expressed partiality to Filipino English teachers, who by far have barely scratched the surface of this market. And then there is the ever increasing need for Filipino caregivers who could earn hefty salaries a lot better than what OFWs do in the Middle East.

From last year’s Boao Forum, President Duterte came home with a number of economic packages meant for pushing his own initiative of “Build! Build! Build!” As if those packages were not enough, the President is again slated to guest in this year’s version of the event — surely to bring home more economic gains.

If there is any assurance that the Philippines will measure up to the rating given it by the PCW, it is the assumption that it has solid Chinese connections.

As I intend to express it for a title of an anthology of my articles that came out in this column about such connection: “China: The way, the truth, and the life.”