By: Ronald Roy
“I have a whole hour to spend with you, sir , before my Political Science class starts at 3,” said 18-year-old William Chang, staring at his watch. A sophomore of a private university located in Makati, Billy, born in Malolos, Bulacan of pure Chinese parentage, had earlier asked me what I thought of the debilitating tensions between China and the Philippines. I laid down the newspaper I’d been reading and asked him to join me as I asked a waiter to clear my table.
Billy, who spoke with a Chinese accent, was familiar to me as a regular customer of the burger restaurant, and must have felt he might gather the courage to speak with me, possibly after having heard my socio-political views in chats with friends on previous occasions. I welcomed an opportunity for a talk with him myself. He would surely furnish me an idea of how people his age and nationality were affected by deteriorating ties between the two countries.
As he prepared to carry his back pack to my table, I sat up eager to answer the still unanswered question: “Sir, will there be a war between China and us?” It was clear that his words ‘China’ and ‘us’ identified his sentiments as Filipino, not Chinese, hence, the assurance my task would not be a problem, although I did stress that all he would be getting from me was a mere opinion, and not an authoritative one at that. So, dear Readers, hereunder are some highlights of my conversation with Billy Chang.
No, I do not believe a full-scale war will erupt between China and us, although isolated shooting incidents shouldn’t be discounted, even in the face of an American-access-to-PH-military-bases agreement. Well, it’s really nice to feel reassured that nobody wants a war where everyone ends up losing, but given China’s history of hotheaded warmongers, one can never really tell.
It’s often said that it will take a moron to press the proverbial red button to trigger a nuclear holocaust. The trouble is: instigators in present-day warfare are madmen, not morons. The distant past had its share of supercilious schizos, like Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Napoleon Bonaparte; and it is feared that today’s Chinese leadership could be what Deng Xiaoping once predicted in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly: murderously mad.
Deng was a 4′ 11″ runt, a midget with the mind of a colossus whose reformist capitalist theories opened avenues for the rapid development of China’s market economy into what it is today: the second strongest in the world, and perhaps the largest creditor-nation ever in the the history of mankind. One’s mind is boggled, indeed, by how America can manage such an enormous debt in the trillions of dollars.
And the same mind comfortably concludes that it would be idiotic and asinine for the two mightiest nations on the planet to annihilate each other in a nuclear confrontation. Yes, indeed, why should they destroy each other when the earth can be theirs by mutually arranged manipulations?! Don’t look now, but already Chinese nationals have been marrying into American homes, and investing in numerous top US companies and business conglomerates at a pace never before thought possible.
The trouble is: this analysis is too rational, too orthodox even for Deng Xiaoping’s comfort if he were alive. The perspicacious Deng had seen too much of the dark side of his country’s leaders which even today’s nations have not yet seen. And Deng strongly warned the world against them. For, Deng knew that it was only a question of time — and that time is now, Billy — that his country would be a daunting economic and military threat to America and the rest of the free world.
And he feared that a resurgent China, the oldest civilization that had once ruled the world (long before our country was discovered), would strive to surge to the top in ruthless disregard of the UN Charter, international law and such other principles and norms of human decency that are intended for the fostering of peace among all nations of goodwill. He recalled the brutal 1964 sinking by a Chinese vessel of an unarmed Vietnamese fishing boat three times smaller, killing over 60 innocent fishers and leaving a similar number missing.
Ironically, however, he would be held accountable by government quarters for the 1989 massacre of student protesters at Tiananmen Square that happened under his watch.The reformist Deng was twice purged by the Politburo for his radical views, but it was his dynamism that brought him back on track in his quest for the pinnacle of power, the same dynamism that had him trepidatiously declaring before the UN General Assembly that, once given a chance at world domination, a reawakened China would most likely bamboozle its neighbors in the Asean region, and should be stopped by other countries acting in concert with its own citizens.
The Chinese people’s cultural trait of settling disputes among themselves without resorting to trial, arbitration, conciliation and the like, has no place in a community of Asean peoples who all disagree with that settlement mode. It’s time China’s leaders stopped behaving like obnoxious brats.
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