Herman Tiu Laurel / Philippine-BRICS Strategic Studies / January 30, 2020

The Philippines formally established “comprehensive strategic cooperation” with China in 2019 when President Xi Jinping visited President Rodrigo R. Duterte in the Philippines. Since then the boost in trade, investments and tourism has helped the Philippines attain one of the highest economic growth rates in the world at 6.2%.

            Despite the growing promise of the PHL-China engagement a small but vociferous, financially endowed and they are particularly savvy in mainstream and social media constantly fanning discontent about the cooperative efforts, spewing fake news and rumor mongering to poison public perception.

            These anti-Duterte and anti-China naysayers are from the ranks of the political opposition, the Leftists nitpickers, the oligarchy which today is under scrutiny of President Dutertes’ close scrutiny, and elements associated the U.S. a.k.a. “Amboys” taking every opportunity to sow confusion and discontent.

            The Wuhan 2019-nCoV novel coronavirus in Hubei province, China, had become another opportunity for these elements to spread seeds of confusion, distrust of authority, panic and hysteria, and racism to destabilize the national state of mind, drag down China’s image and, by association, drag President Duterte down too.

            Of course, not all of the concern expressed is simply negativism, there are indeed many genuine concerns and concerned citizens. But the malicious China bashes and anti-government trolls generate many instances of overreaction and literally a spate of hysteria reflected on social media.

There are blind China haters out there that never had the welfare of humanity or even their own compatriots at all, spewing a lot of venom at China as their celebration of the crisis. I posted one good news on Facebook about the first patients cured and released from the hospital in Wuhan, China. The first comment that appeared took me aback, it said “Fuck China”.

The commenter turns out to be in the Facebook groups of Magdalo and the Friends of Gary Alejano, with no profile picture but some symbols and no details in its “about” with a presumably fake name Mark Anthony Sanchez. But it seemed like he was on the prowl on FB just to pounce on any positive post about China and Duterte. A torrent of other comments followed castigating this Mark Anthony Sanchez.

Checking this Mark Anthony Sanchez’s other post on his wall, one just sees a long litany of anti-Duterte memes and commentaries. The fact is, Gary Alejano may have taken the political posture to be anti-China to be consistent with his anti-Duterte politics, in personal talks with him years ago he understood the reality of China’s constructive efforts at dialogue. The contradiction in his politics is political dishonesty.

            Our government authorities under the present administration has been more reliable by far than past administrations, after the past purges of unreliable and corrupt official by President Duterte. The fear of the President striking them down when incompetence and irresponsibility arises keeps the cabinet officials remarkably alert these days.

            Anti-China hysteria had become a hindrance to the sober decision making, such as the denial by a few protesters in Subic for two cruise ships with several thousand tourists, despite those passengers naturally locked down during the days at sea and then cleared by quarantine, to land and spend on souvenirs, meals, entertainment that would have gone to local pockets.

It is to the credit of the Duterte government that up to this time, over a month since the outbreak of the crisis in Wuhan, China, not a single case of confirmed Wuhan coronavirus has been detected. A sign of both the effective quarantine and lock down imposed by China in their home country and the Philippine government’s vigilance on our border entry points.

To the credit of the top Chinese leadership they took early and hard decision that would even affect their nation’s overall GDP in the coming months to lock down cities and tens of millions of its population, including curtailing flights out of China, to stem the spread of the virus.

It is during such a crisis that the collective and authoritative governance of China shows its best: mobilization of vast reources and medical talent was called into action, including the PLA medical units, the corporate titans donated billions immediately for supplies to support the government, a dedicated hospital is constructed within a week. Quarantine of entire cities were imposed.

The speed and impact of China’s leadership in gearing their country to stop the spread of the virus seemed like a call to war, to fight the emerging disease. It is the same massive response one sees when China is confronted with an earthquake disaster of even the Trade War of the past two years which China declared to be a new “Long March”.

The director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on January 29 in a press conference in Geneva had this to say:

 “China has been completely committed to transparency, both internally and externally, and has agreed to work with other countries that need support… The level of commitment (of the leadership) in China is incredible; I will praise China again and again, because its actions actually helped in reducing the spread of the novel coronavirus to other countries … we shall tell the truth and that’s the truth…”

So, we too, in the Philippines must speak the truth about this Wuhan coronavirus crisis. While the peak of the vector of the virus is still projected to be at around February 8, the period from the estimated real start of the first infections to the effectivity of the quarantines, the rist 100 recoveries have already been seen, signs of infection are slowly tapering, the situation as WHO announced has not reached an international emergency.

            China and the World, working together to decipher the virus genome, develop immediate protocols that has helped recoveries, working feverishly to produce the vaccine in the next three months, with WHO’s keen monitoring, the situation is coming under full control.

The virus indeed seems more virulent than the SARS but China, the Philippine government and the global medical community is coming up to the challenge.