EMBRASSER ... LE DRAGON ?
A US ambassador noted the “deepening" trade relations between the Philippines and China due to “shared history and ethnic connections" – particularly wealthy Filipino taipans – despite smuggling that “distort economic data," according to a cable released by Wikileaks on Thursday.
President Benigno Aquino III himself is already set to embark on a five-day state visit to China next week, focusing on getting investments on infrastructure, mining, energy, information and tourism.
“The Greater China market, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, however, now absorbs 21% of all Philippine exports, and these economies have collectively become the country's largest export market, so the ‘China market’ for Filipinos is significantly much more than that of the PRC," he noted.
“Many companies, especially those run by Filipinos with Chinese ancestry, have set up operations in China, and the Philippines anticipates increased Chinese commercial investments that will further strengthen ties," he said.
“The emergence of a class of wealthy and powerful Chinese-Filipinos known as Taipans (most notably Lucio Tan and John Gokongwei) who exercise considerable influence over business has changed the role of the Chinese community within the Philippines," he added while also mentioning businessmen brothers Carlos and Ben Chan as prominent Chinese Filipinos with eyes on China.
“These investors have historical ties to China, speak Chinese, and have, for the most part, been successful in their business endeavors there. Their increasing focus on mainland China for their investments reflects an economic move away from Taiwan and towards the PRC [People’s Republic of China]," Ricciardone observed.
Chinese competition, smuggling
He pointed out that “discrepancy between the data collected by the Chinese and Philippine governments suggests that a great deal of the trade between these two countries is happening ‘under the radar’." He was referring to “large-scale smuggling of Chinese goods," particularly pirated DVDs and “designer knock-offs that line the stalls of some of Metro Manila’s largest shopping districts."