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China In Our Future

By: Cielito F. Habito, PhD
In a recent visit to our public market in Los Baños, Laguna, I decided to explore the shops surrounding the market itself. I found myself in a store surprisingly much larger inside than its unassuming facade would suggest, selling various kinds of cheap China-made goods including foodstuffs, clothes, personal articles and household fixtures. There seem to be numerous such stores in various parts of the country now, selling almost exclusively those cheap, everyday China-made goods. Some of them are rather large establishments that appear to be part of a chain of large variety stores. I’ve seen a few of these in different cities around the country, and have shopped in at least a couple of them. There are actually good buys to find in these places, especially items for which quality is not critical.
What struck me about that inconspicuous store in our town’s marketplace was how practically everyone in the store sounded like recent immigrants who spoke little Filipino or English. Recalling the recent news on the apprehension of hundreds of illegal Chinese workers in a Clark Freeport zone casino, I’ve been led to wonder if these shop workers were likewise undocumented aliens—and to what extent we may have been “invaded” by many other such workers elsewhere in the country. What it all suggests to me is that China is in fact already all over us, perhaps more than most of us realize. With or without our territorial issues with this giant of a neighbor, how we manage our political and economic relationship with it is certainly a critical element of our foreign policy, and the tack President Duterte has taken on this could well reflect this inescapable reality.
Whether we like it or not, China’s presence will be prominent in our future—as a nation, as an economy, or as individuals. It already is—as these observations show—but promises to be even more so. Neither are we unique in this, and it’s far from surprising. The sheer size of China and the sheer number of its people (making up nearly one-fifth of humanity), the added mobility that cheap air travel brings, and China’s rapid economic growth over recent decades make their prominence worldwide quite natural.
Read the full article at http://opinion.inquirer.net/100598/china-in-our-future