By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.

PASIG CITY — The think tank Asian Century Philippines Strategic Studies Institute Inc. (ACPSSI) on Saturday (Dec. 16) said that cutting trade ties with China is an economic suicide.

In a media forum at the ACPSSII in Pasig City, ACPSSII President Herman “Ka Mentong” Tiu Laurel said that “even as China continues to promote Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), by way of the three major rail projects in Mindanao, North and South Luzon, the government continues to unilaterally announce their termination.”

Still, Laurel added that China has also just donated Php3.5-billion Bucana Bridge in Davao, as it continuously contemplates the Cagayan Gateway projects proposed by Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba.

He stressed that inasmuch as the Chico River Dam irrigation project is now enriching the harvest of 10,000 farming families, a delegation from Kalinga province called on the ACPSSII to seek assistance on the commencement of the project’s second phase, as the province, being the upper source of irrigation, still has to benefit from hydroelectricity and irrigation to come from yet-to-be-implemented Phase II.

“Verily, such delays, similar to the ‘suspended’ giant rail projects, are crippling the nation’s economy,” Laurel said.

Likewise, the ACPSSII executive said that the calls to boycott Chinese products and declare the Chinese ambassador as “persona non grata”, resulted in the loss for the country’s tourism industry of potential earnings from two million Chinese tourists even as the country’s largest malls say “China Feud May Hurt Businesses”, which means hurting millions of Filipino consumers.

“Mindanao exporters dread a repeat of the 2012 rotting fruits,” he added.

For her part, Prof. Anna Malindog-Uy said that there’s an US87.23-billion trade between the Philippines and China. Uy cited the China cooperation program in agriculture.

She said that the Chinese investments provide the necessary financial investments.

Uy noted that China is the world’s second largest economy.

Scrapping the trade relations with China would mean a stoppage in foreign direct investments.

Stopping or scrapping the trade relatiions with China should be seriously considered.

China provides the necessary infrastructure investments such as in the digital technology and green technology and infrastructure like the alternative or renewable energy.

Technological transfer is critical in the modernization of Philippine industries in the sense that China is a highly advanced technological country.

According to Uy, it would be an economic suicide if the Philippines would cut its trade ties with China.

This was the reaction of Anna Malindog-Uy on the statement of a maritime expert on Monday (Dec. 11) that the Philippine government should consider stopping and annulling existing Chinese business operations in the country if China’s illegal and aggressive actions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS) continued.

According to Uy, the suggestion of the maritime law expert is akin to telling the Philippines to commit economic suicide.

Uy was amazed by such a “suicidal” suggestion.

She noted that the trade relationship between China and the Philippines is important and crucial, with China as one if not the largest trading partners and a significant source of imports and exports of the Philippines.

She said that any decision to cut and stop business ties and operations with Chinese companies could disrupt this trade dynamic and potentially affect the Philippine economy adversely.

Hence, she added that cutting business, trade, and economic ties with China would not be beneficial for the Philippines.

She cited that Chinese investments provide necessary financial support for large-scale domestic infrastructure projects.

Uy said that China is the Philippines’ largest trading partner, the largest source of imports, and a major export market, adding that, the bilateral trade between the two countries, with substantial imports and exports, contributes significantly to the Philippine economy.

She noted that cutting trade and economic ties could lead to potential economic instability on the side of the Philippines.

Uy stressed that Chinese Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) plays a critical role in various sectors of the Philippine economy, including infrastructure, trade, and investment.

She said that a sudden severance of economic ties could lead to a sharp decline in FDI, affecting these sectors and possibly leading to job losses and economic downturns.

Uy pointed out that abruptly ending economic ties between China and the Philippines could strain diplomatic relations.

She emphasized that the geopolitical dynamics in Southeast Asia mean that maintaining a balanced relationship with China is of strategic interest to the Philippines.

Uy said that the diplomatic and economic engagements are part of this balance, and disrupting them could have wider geopolitical repercussions.

She added that within the Philippines, there’s a potential for domestic repercussions, including the displacement of workers, especially in sectors heavily reliant on Chinese investments.

Uy expounded that the complexities of international trade and diplomacy suggest that any move to cut and stop existing Chinese business operations in the Philippines would have to be carefully considered to avoid adverse effects on the Philippine economy and its global standing.

She said that on the side of the Philippines, any decision to cut or stop existing Chinese business operations would need to weigh the potential economic impact against the geopolitical and national security concerns.

She added that the balance of national interest, economic gains, and sovereign integrity would be the utmost consideration and should be at the center of the debate before a decision could even be reached in this regard.