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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Why Beijing must pay

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Rob Ramos
Rob Ramos is the former Media Officer of the Liberal Party NHQ. Communications graduate from the Ateneo de Manila. Alumni of the FNF International Academy for Leadership. 10 years in Public Service.

Discussing something like this is akin to walking a minefield: you know it’s dangerous, but you have to do it anyway because you need to get through this illegal action.

There is also the understanding – and here we’re jumping the gun – that this is written by the citizen who has seen his country suffer from Beijing’s depredations since its election of Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. Partisans of Beijing would argue that I am coming from a biased viewpoint.

It’s also… maddening that despite the starkness of the truth behind this writeup’s assertion, it has to be defended. This isn’t even about the (European-type) liberal’s propensity to think everyone else gets it, but the sheer absurdity of having to explain what should be truth at the outset.

That Beijing must pay for what its virus has done to the world.

Let’s start by once again heading off the actual supporters and the paid ones (whether here or abroad) and trying to get the Whataboutism out of the way. I’m not doing this for them but for the good lot of you who fall victim to that newest of logical fallacies.

The retort on the premise is predicated on the idea that Beijing is being singled out. Why is it that the world’s newest superpower is being demanded to do reparations? What about all the other Great Powers (especially the still-lone hyperpower that is the United States)?

You see this played out in other issues. When the oppression, now legal and can be exported abroad – the law passed on it means China can go after you, Non-Mainlander Citizen! – is brought up especially in the West, various Whataboutisms are brought up quicker than a Woke complaining about small Asian girls drawn wrong. What About America’s Treatment of Blacks? What About European Countries Who Engaged in Imperialism?

And it goes on and on and annoyingly on until you, unpaid concerned shmuck that you are, tire of this conflict and therefore giving some paid Chinese or Russian or Filipino shill a big fat bonus for shutting down your rightful critique of how kids are being beaten and rounded up, probably never to be seen again except in someone’s new kidney in America.

That’s the thing with Whataboutism: it forces you to lose sight of your point as you, decent fellow that you probably are, get forced to consider these other things.

But the thing is, issues such as this are not zero-sum games where discussing one takes away from the others. People calling for Black Lives Matter, for example, can critique what’s happening in Hong Kong on the basis of shared international values. 

The response should either be “we’re doing (or been doing, in the case of some of these issues) something about it”, like with BLM or “we’ll get to that, sure, but meanwhile can you answer my question first why Beijing is so hell-bent in punishing a couple of kids asking that agreements be respected?”

The response here to the parry of “But What About…” should be “Sure, but explain yourself first.”

So when we say, “Beijing Must Pay For the Wuhan Virus” and someone retorts by pointing out other nations did horrible things to other nations in the entire history of international relations, our response must be you answer our question first.

Because that’s then, this is now, and how many have died already.

That also segues for me to the real reason for me why Beijing must answer for the Wuhan Virus. And it’s a simple matter of how Great Powers should behave in a post-WW2 or Post-Cold War milieu.

I was asked in Quora what I thought about a resurgent China. I bet the Asker was surprised that I, an avowed patriot of the Republic of the Philippines, said that’s fine. In fact, I said there that I wasn’t just okay with it, I also thought it was absolutely necessary that there should be at least two Great Powers competing against each other.

Without having to delve too deeply in theories of politics and international relations, just accept for now the idea that a healthy international system requires contest between states. A hopefully benign contest – particularly one that doesn’t involve nuclear missiles – but at least one where Great Powers of relatively equal capabilities compete with each other.

I welcomed a situation where a resurgent China gave everyone options, especially with regard to the world’s hegemon since at least the 1990s. 

But, see, aspiration to the status Rome, Carthage, Britain, and the US enjoyed at various points in human history comes with certain responsibilities. Especially after the end of the…. “imperial age” (coincidental with the end of World War II, although many former colonies took some time to be free).

I mention those four and intentionally left out a couple because of the nature of control they exerted over their own empires. Yes, there was an intent to dominate. Duh. Yes, there was exploitation. Double duh.

But these empires at various stages and levels were smart enough to at least give a semblance of care to the peoples they brought under their sphere of influence. For nothing did the (most of the) people in Rome’s territories aspire to citizenship. And at least prior to Trump, who doesn’t want a US Visa?

There is even this argument that the global system the US put in place after World War II was a better version of the ones done by the Romans. Technology aside, except in some areas the United States didn’t need to station its troops, unlike the Legions of Rome that needed to be kept onsite to protect its empire. If the Americans did, it was to (ostensibly) support an ally, like the ones in South Korea and Japan, or the American NATO units once stationed in Germany. I’m Filipino and a former activist and political operator so I know what the US Bases here were for, okay?

The US kept the world in its hegemony simply by promoting its way of life and then securing the means of supplying the demand for it the world over. 

You might have been conditioned by your thinking that it’s cool to think the US Is Evil, but that snazzy gadget your using to view this got to you relatively cheap and on time because American warships keep the sealanes free from pirates. Well, most of the time.

At the same time, the Americans have flooded the world with aid. When disaster strikes, American support comes and it is often without any obvious strings and in copious amounts. Even now that their own country has become the hotspot for the Wuhan Virus, the Philippines is getting millions of dollars worth of aid from the US, and that’s just the ones from direct diplomatic channels.

Meanwhile, Beijing has given sparingly and often it seems with strings attached. Or maybe it’s just because anyone who’s not a DDS or a paid troll thinks our regime here in Manila is a lapdog of Xi Jinping.

And that’s partly my point: Beijing, especially under Xi, has been branding itself as the alternative to the Americans; Vladimir Putin isn’t even trying (but then again, he’s busy destroying the Americans from within and he’s almost through with it, just needs four more years).

But what an alternative it is.

Have you heard of the Sri Lankan port that’s now in Chinese hands because it was built with loans Sri Lanka can’t pay? So near to the American base at Diego Garcia, too.

Did you hear how my own government decided to get loans from Beijing despite how bad their rates are, compared to the ones offered by, say, the Japanese?

But let’s not even go there, how Beijing especially under Xi has decided to be an ogre and a bully internationally instead of showing the world that they’re a better, nicer, more cultured option over the Americans.

If you aspire to Great Power status, or even as a Superpower that China now is… the least you can do is be responsible for the mess you made.

We know there were reports of a flu-like virus spreading wildly in Wuhan, China at least since December 2019. Let’s stick with that and not go to the stuff we can’t substantiate that it’s been making the rounds there a lot earlier. Let’s not even discuss here that thing about it being a bioweapon that got out of control or a virus research subject that somehow got thrown out with the trash.

We also know that, until it was impossible to do so around February 2020, China continued to not only deny it but also persecute their own people making alarms about it. That issue got so bad the Chinese people got this close to kicking Xi out because of their anger. Our regime here in Manila pooh-pooohed it, giving so many filthy excuses up to directly saying it doesn’t want to hurt Xi’s feelings by putting the Republic under lockdown.

In the first two months of 2020, we even got a planeload of vacationers from Wuhan itself on the international airport nearest Boracay. Nevermind how much Manila under Davao fawns over Beijing but let’s just note here how utterly irresponsible it was for Beijing to allow its own countrymen to gallivant when it is fully aware that a highly-contagious and deadly virus is spreading out from one of its most populous provinces.

An entire plane full of people from Wuhan on our tarmac.

When there’s a disease spreading in their own region.

That’s like the biohazard equivalent of the Soviet Union initially denying Chernobyl happened as bad as it did. We all know how that went down because there was a docudrama on it (if you didn’t bother to learn it elsewhere).

And that’s what galls me. Today is 22 August 2020 and I’m in a metropolis that’s still under restrictions with our cases of the Wuhan Virus still going up. Thousands have already died here alone, with our infections at the six-figure mark.

Even worse, the Philippine economy is in recession; a 16% drop in GDP since I think we took back the country from Erap Estrada in 2001. The report on adult unemployment is 45%. Forty Fucking Five Percent. Businesses have closed. People are suffering mentally. And that’s just here.

You only need to do a goddamned Google Search to see how bad it is elsewhere unless your New Zealand, Vietnam, or Batanes. Even then, two of those bastions are reporting a rise in new cases (I wonder why…?), with the Vietnamese absolutely clueless why they have a resurgence.

Nevermind the incompetent regimes in places like Manila, Washington, D.C. or Brasilia: this could have been avoided had Beijing under Xi Jinping acted swiftly and responsibly to contain the virus. If not in Wuhan, at least from spreading so much so swiftly from its borders from all those Chinese tourists flying out to all points of the compass.

When you think about it, smaller, poorer countries have done better. Ebola [PxxxT] was contained because the governments of the African countries it was affecting moved swiftly, decisively, and responsibly. 

Imagine if these countries had:

  • Denied there was an outbreak
  • Persecuted/Silenced those who spoke out against it
  • Made the World Health Organization complicit in all this (since the WHO was also instrumental in halting the spread of Ebola)

Go ahead, read up on Ebola and what it does.

If these African countries had acted as irresponsibly with Ebola as the superpower that is Beijing with the Wuhan Virus, then you bet your ass from any point of the political spectrum that these countries would be made to pay for it. In the same way we’re calling out Myanmar for its treatment of its Muslim minorities but even “Defender of the Faith” countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia don’t give two hoots about the way China is genociding its Uighurs and you, Woke little shit you, probably don’t know about China’s own Muslim minorities that it’s treating like Hitler did the Jews (with apologies to Godwin) but there you are taking the Japanese to task for drawing little women wrong.

That’s why Beijing has to pay for what happened to the world over the virus that sprang from one of its provinces.

Instead of being the responsible Great Power that it should be, it decided to… what? Save face? To who, Xi? Wouldn’t it have made China’s standing in the world go up had its leaders done the responsible thing and led in the containment and curing of this disease?

Instead, look at what Beijing has done:

  • Ramped up stealing Philippine resources and territory while the US 7th Fleet couldn’t do maneuvers because its sailors were down with the Wuhan V.
  • Started a war with India.
  • Threatened the EU and Australia for their attempts to get some answers from Beijing.
  • Pushed their lackeys in Hong Kong to pass a repressive law.
  • Turned the World Health Organization, formerly one of the UN bodies you can still trust, into its own adjunct.

Just like its own lackeys, Beijing has done nothing substantial to help the world deal with the virus it unleashed and instead used such “interesting times” to run riot, stealing things and taking out critics and rivals.

It wouldn’t even share critical data on the virus. The best it did was give other countries a “snapshot” of sorts of the genetic code of the Wuhan Virus. Do you understand, you fucking troll, how that impedes research on a vaccine?

Is that what Chinese culture is all about?

That’s why, after we survive this pandemic, the world should come knocking on Beijing’s doorstep and ask it ponies up reparations.

We demanded as much from the last madman who plunged the world into this much death and disruption. Why shouldn’t we do it now?

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