September 26, 2023

In light of China’s continuous intrusion into the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the West Philippine Sea and its rampant bullying of the Philippine Navy and Filipino fishermen, Sen. Miguel Zubiri has seen enough of this kind of discrimination that he believes it is about time the leadership and the people of the country take a tough stance against China.
Since the Philippines is in no position to wage war against China, he is suggesting that all Chinese contractors doing business in the Philippines be blacklisted and all products coming from the same country be boycotted ala civil disobedience.
Zubiri has got a major point in suggesting the course of action we have to do in order to retaliate against the aggressive yet baseless behavior of China against our country and our people. We are all for it. The inhuman way by which the Chinese Navy bombards with water cannons the smaller ships/boats owned by Filipinos, who by tradition, use the Philippine sea as their fishing and trading grounds, the unjustified blocking of Philippine Navy ships that are on a survival mission to the Ayungin Shoal, and the illegal assertion of a territorial right that does not exist, fully complement what Zubiri wants accomplished. We need to make China feel that what it is doing to the Philippines in terms of depriving the latter of what it legally owns will not go unpunished.
However, the consequences of what Zubiri wants to achieve may be direr against the Philippines than it will be for China. What I mean is that, boycotting Chinese products may have worse effect on our economy and on our people than it will be for China. Besides, such sanction is only a knee-jerk reaction for a diplomatic problem that will not deter China from asserting what it believes is its right to assume. Why do I say these?
Practically, everything that we purchase is “made in China.” The t-shirts we wear, the food we eat, the bags we put our things in, the tables and chairs we use, the computers and cellphones we rely on to communicate with each other, and almost all other items seen, heard, tasted, and felt are all made in China. Even in other countries, the products they consume are made in China. The souvenirs that are brought home by our OFWs are made in China. So prevalent and dominant are Chinese products that one writer dared to joke that “Except for Adam and Eve, everything is made in China.”
Therefore, if we are to boycott Chinese products, as suggested by Zubiri, he must perforce provide the details on how we can fill up the void left in our daily lives if we are to shun Chinese products. For instance, where shall we get the onions and garlic that are exported from China? Where will we purchase cheap clothes that only China can supply? Where do we get electronic devices that are predominantly imported from China? Without Chinese products in the Philippines, the law of supply and demand will not be amply covered.
Has the amiable Senator, before making the bold suggestion to boycott Chinese products, even bothered to ask himself what percentage of China’s trade surplus of its products that are exported to the Philippines constitute part of its income? Perhaps, China’s Gross Domestic Product, the term used to define the economy of a country, does not even count in its range of consumption of Filipinos of what it exports in the country.
In the end, while boycotting Chinese pro-ducts send a message to China, the message will be soft and unfelt. Worse, it might not even work a bit, not in the way Zubiri envisions it to be. It will be counter-productive and instead of making China suffer, it will be the Philippines that will suffer in the long run. We simply cannot afford to do away with Chinese products because whether we like it or not, we have become too reliant on its existence.