Pubblicato in: Cina, Sistemi Economici, Sistemi Politici

Filippine. La situazione analizzata dal punto di vista cinese. Xinhua.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-08-22.

Mare Cinese del Sud 001

Essere obiettivi è davvero arte difficile, anche nella più perfetta buona fede.

Per gli italiani Oberdan Sauro e Battisti sono irredentisti martiri per l’Italia, mentre per gli austriaci sono traditori della patria. Chi studiasse la storia solo su testi italiani abbraccerebbe la prima interpretazione, chi invece studiasse la storia su testi austriaci abbraccerebbe la seconda.

La scelta delle fonti di informazione condiziona l’idea che ci si forma di quanto accade. Ma mica è detto che l’informazione di parte dica la verità.

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Ma non esiste solo il punto di vista occidentale, esiste anche quello degli altri. Non solo. I media occidentali hanno tutti un’impronta liberal che le recenti elezioni hanno dimostrato essere minoritaria. Seguire solo questi media sarebbe fuorviante. Le elezioni hanno dimostrato e stanno dimostrando come i liberals democratici ed i socialisti europei siano una minoranza: il loro pensiero non rispecchia quello occidentale.  Proprio per niente.

Da un punto di vista meramente economico, se si considera il pil per potere di acquisto, il mondo genera 108,036,500 milioni Usd, la Cina 17,617,300 (16.31%) e gli Stati Uniti 17,418,00 (16.12%). L’Eurozona rende conto di 11,249,482 (10.41%) ed il Gruppo dei G7 di 31.825,293 (29.46%). Di conseguenza, la voce dell’Occidente vale nel mondo al massimo per il 29.46%, ma quella degli Stati Uniti vale solo il 16.12% e quella dell’Europa uno scarno 10.41%.

È davvero ingenua per non dire patetica la arrogante presunzione di quanti considerano l’Occidente egemone dominante: gli altri non glielo permetterebbero. Ma ancora più farsesca è la proterva superbia di quanti presumono che l’Eurozona (10.41%) possa condizionare il mondo: è vero proprio l’opposto.

Cina. Quanzhou. I Brics decidono cosa farsene dell’Occidente.

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Diamo volentieri atto che i media cinesi, arabi, russi ed indiani sono usualmente molto più obbiettivi e quasi sempre riportano i fatti senza distorcerli, cosa non da poco. Di norma separano le notizie dai commenti.

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I discorsi sopra fatti non sono per nulla di lana caprina.

L’Occidente ha perso negli ultimi decenni molte posizioni proprio per l’essersi incancrenito in simili ideologie. Da ultimo, sta persino perdendo la Turkia, da oltre settanta anni fedele alleata.

Ma quadro analogo si prospetta nel sud – est asiatico, con i rapporti con le Filippine.

Ma senza alleati l’Occidente corre il rischio di contare ancor meno di quanto conti ora.

Ma le Filippine hanno una posizione strategica nel Mare Cinese del Sud e sull’Oceano Pacifico.

Poniamo adesso un quesito: e se Mr Duterte avesse ragione? Perché non voler ascoltare anche le sue ragioni?

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«Most Filipinos remain appreciative of the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte after one year of his term»

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«In the national Capital Region, the survey said Duterte also scored 80 percent, or 7 percent higher than a previous survey conducted in March»

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«Duterte managed to get high approval rating despite the strings of criticisms hurled in his way by some western countries and human rights groups alarmed by the hardline drug war»

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«In the past year, President Duterte has initiated a series of economic reforms to accelerate economic development. Despite much “political noise,” the government seeks sustained growth around 6.5- to 7 percent in 2017, by banking on multiple initiatives, especially higher infrastructure spending»

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«the current Philippine government debt of $123 billion is about to soar to $290 billion because China, the “most likely lender,” would impose high interest rates on the debt»

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«These figures assume absence of transparency by the Duterte government and China on the interest rate, conditionality and repayment terms of $167 billion of new debt for the Philippines»

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«the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) anticipated the Philippine debt position to remain sustainable, despite deficit spending for infrastructure. Between 2017 and 2022, the Duterte government plans to spend about $160 billion to $180 billion to fund the “Golden Age of Infrastructure.” An expansionary fiscal policy shall increase the planned deficit to 2 to 3 percent of GDP»

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«Given deficit spending of 3 percent of GDP, the DBM assumes growth will be 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year and 7 percent to 8 percent from 2018 to 2022 (plus inflation of 2 percent to 4 percent). As a result, it projects the debt-to-GDP ratio to decline from 41 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2022»

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«The realities are very different, however»

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«Duterte is focused on infrastructure (his infrastructure budget as percentage of GDP is 2 to 3 times higher in relative terms).»

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«Such objectives are far from neutral economic observation, but they do reflect political partisanship that is typical of Washington’s neoconservative and liberal imperial dreams»

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«Duterte stressed that Russia is a reliable partner, and he offered to continue their friendship»

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I media liberal occidentali odiano Mr Duterete per almeno due motivi, per loro di importanza fondamentale.

In primo luogo. Mr Duterte ha dichiarato guerra alla droga ed ha disposto la pena di morte in via amministrativa degli spacciatori, ottenendo in tempi molto rapidi una quasi completa bonifica delle Filippine.

In secondo luogo, pur tollerando a parole l’omosessualità e l’lgbt, si è fermamente opposto alla legalizzazione delle coppie omosessuali.

There is no gender because you can be a he or she… That’s their culture. It does not apply to us. We are Catholics and there is the Civil Code, which says that you can only marry a woman for me… a woman to marry a man. …. That’s our law so why would you accept that gender?»

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Ma ciò che l’Occidente liberal considera i reati dei reati, nelle Filippine e nel resto del mondo sono invece comportamenti normali e legali. L’Occidente conta quanto il nobile decaduto che chiede l’elemosina sul sagrato di una Chiesa. Il blasone non è commestibile.

L’irrigidimento ideologico dell’Amministrazione Obama nei confronti delle Filippine ha obbligato Mr Duterte a riavvicinarsi alla Cina ed alla Russia, che, non nutrendo ideologie di sorta, non possono nemmeno cercare di imporle ai loro partner economici e militari.

Per irrigidimento ideologico l’Occidente ha già quasi perso la Turkia: nulla vieta di pensare che la prossima perdita siano proprio le Filippine.


Nota.

Nella comparazione economica è stata usato l’indice del pil ppa, per potere di acquisto, perché più appropriato. Il discorso teorico sarebbe lungo ed anche alquanto barboso: ci spiegheremo con un esempio.

Consideriamo due persone che guadagnino ciascuna 1,500 euro al mese.

La prima vive a Londra, dove l’affitto di una camera ammobiliata si aggira sui 1,200 euro al mese. Pur essendo persona molto parsimoniosa, vive ai margini della miseria, nella fascia di povertà.

La seconda vive in Venezuela. Con tale introito mensile può permettersi una villetta, la cuoca e due persone di servizio. Essa vive in condizione di lusso.

Stessa entrata mensile, ma differenti poteri di acquisto.

Il pil ppa è calcolato tenendo conto del costo della vita, rendendo così comparabili dati raccolti in paesi diversi.



New China. 2017-05-25. Philippines’ Duterte asks Putin for arms support

MOSCOW, May 24 (Xinhua) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has asked his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, for arms to fight Islamic militants in the Asian country.

“Our country needs modern weapons to fight against ISIS. We had certain orders in the U.S., however, the situation is not very good now. I came to Moscow to ask for your help and support,” the Kremlin quoted Duterte as telling Putin in a meeting on Tuesday.

Duterte stressed that Russia is a reliable partner, and he offered to continue their friendship.

“We need to improve trade exchange between the two countries,” the Philippine leader said.

Putin noted that Moscow and Manila have many bilateral projects, including power engineering, defense cooperation, and transport infrastructure.

Duterte arrived in Moscow on Tuesday for a four-day official visit, but was forced to cut short his trip as fighting broke out in the southern Philippine region of Mindanao.

Putin said he hoped the conflict in the Philippines would be resolved “with minimum losses.”

Duterte’s delegation remained in Moscow to sign bilateral agreements on Wednesday, Russian media reported.


Xinhua. 2017-07-17. Philippines’ Duterte enjoys high approval rating at 82 percent: poll

MANILA, July 17 (Xinhua) — Most Filipinos remain appreciative of the performance of President Rodrigo Duterte after one year of his term, according to an independent poll released here Monday.

A survey by Pulse Asia Inc. conducted from June 24 to June 29 showed that 82 percent of the 1,200 people surveyed nationwide approved the way Duterte runs the country.

Out of all the respondents, the poll said 13 percent were undecided about Duterte’s performance, while 5 percent disapproved Duterte’s performance. Overall, the poll said Duterte scored the highest among the top government officials covered by the survey.

“Most Filipinos remain appreciative of the performance of (Duterte), Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel,” the poll said, adding that Robredo got 61 percent while Pimentel, 62 percent.

In the national Capital Region, the survey said Duterte also scored 80 percent, or 7 percent higher than a previous survey conducted in March. In the main Luzon Island, the survey said Duterte scored 75 percent, or 4 percent higher than the March survey. Duterte scored the highest in his bailiwick Mindanao, scoring 95 percent, or 7 percent higher than the score he got in March, the survey said.

However, the survey noted that Duterte’s approval rating dropped 2 percent in the Visayas region in the central Philippines from 86 percent in March to 84 percent.

Duterte managed to get high approval rating despite the strings of criticisms hurled in his way by some western countries and human rights groups alarmed by the hardline drug war campaign and the declaration of martial law in the entire Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Government authorities said the ongoing war in Marawi City against militants allied with the Islamic State has so far claimed the lives of at least 593 people, including 411 terrorists, 97 security forces and 45 civilians.

Duterte, who assumed the presidency in June last year, ends his single, six-year term in 2022.


Xinhua. 2017-07-26. Philippine President Duterte vows for closer relations with China

MANILA, July 25 (Xinhua) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte pledged on Tuesday that his country is to build stronger bilateral relations with China.

“The Philippines attaches great importance to China’s status and influence in the world, and is willing to build stronger relations with China,” Duterte said in his meeting with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Duterte said the Philippines highly appreciates the support China extends to his country and the role China plays in his country’s nation building, especially China’s support to combat terrorism.

Duterte expressed his satisfaction with the development of the bilateral ties between the two countries, saying the Philippines is willing to deepen cooperation with China in all sectors so as to benefit the two countries and their peoples.

Wang reiterated that China unswervingly supports Philippine’s independent foreign policy.

Wang recalled that bilateral relations between China and the Philippines have fully improved under the guidance of the leaders of the two countries, saying improvement in relations has brought tangible benefits to the two peoples.

“Facts speak louder. For neighbors, dialogue is better than confrontation, cooperation is better than friction. History will show that we have made a right choice,” Wang said.


Xinhua. 2017-08-05. The myths and realities of Duterte’s infrastructure initiative

In the past year, President Duterte has initiated a series of economic reforms to accelerate economic development. Despite much “political noise,” the government seeks sustained growth around 6.5- to 7 percent in 2017, by banking on multiple initiatives, especially higher infrastructure spending.

According to Ernesto Pernia, Director General of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), investment spending must be ramped up to 30 percent of GDP for the Philippines to become an upper middle-income economy by the end of Duterte’s term in 2022, and to pave the way for a high-income economy by 2040.

Yet, the huge infrastructure investment effort has been often misreported internationally. Infrastructure investment is a case in point.

The allegation: Infrastructure as ‘debt slavery’

In early May, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno estimated that some $167 billion would be spent on infrastructure during President Duterte’s six-year term. Only a day later, US business magazine Forbes released a commentary, which headlined that this debt “could balloon to $452 billion: China will benefit.”

According to the author, Dr. Anders Corr, the current Philippine government debt of $123 billion is about to soar to $290 billion because China, the “most likely lender,” would impose high interest rates on the debt: “Over 10 years, that could balloon the Philippines’ debt-to-GDP ratio to as high as 296 percent, the highest in the world.”

These figures assume absence of transparency by the Duterte government and China on the interest rate, conditionality and repayment terms of $167 billion of new debt for the Philippines. Due to accrued interest, “Dutertenomics, fueled by expensive loans from China, will put the Philippines into virtual debt bondage if allowed to proceed.” Corr assumes China’s interest rate would amount to 10 percent to 15 percent.

But why would the Philippines accept such a nightmare scenario? Because, as Corr puts it, “Duterte and his influential friends and business associates could each benefit with hundreds of millions of dollars in finder’s fees, of 27 percent, for such deals.”

He offers no facts or evidence to substantiate the assertions, however.

The official story: Debt decline, despite infrastructure investment

Recently, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) anticipated the Philippine debt position to remain sustainable, despite deficit spending for infrastructure. Between 2017 and 2022, the Duterte government plans to spend about $160 billion to $180 billion to fund the “Golden Age of Infrastructure.” An expansionary fiscal policy shall increase the planned deficit to 2 to 3 percent of GDP.

To finance the deficit, the government will borrow money following an 80-20 borrowing mix in favor of domestic sources, to alleviate foreign exchange risks—which would seem to undermine the story of China as the Big Bad Wolf.

The fiscal strategy is manageable because the economy, despite increasing deficit, will outgrow its debt burden as economic expansion outpaces the growth in the rate of borrowing. So what is the expected impact on the debt-to-GDP ratio?

Given deficit spending of 3 percent of GDP, the DBM assumes growth will be 6.5 percent to 7.5 percent this year and 7 percent to 8 percent from 2018 to 2022 (plus inflation of 2 percent to 4 percent). As a result, it projects the debt-to-GDP ratio to decline from 41 percent in 2016 to 38 percent in 2022.

The realities: Growth over deficit financing

The current Philippine debt-to-GDP ratio compares well with its regional peers. It is half of that of Singapore and less than that of Vietnam, Malaysia, Laos and Thailand (see Figure 1). The starting point for a huge infrastructure upgrade is favorable. True, in a downscale risk analysis, Philippine growth performance might not reach the target, but would be likely to stay close to it – which would still translate to a manageable increase in the debt-to-GDP ratio.

Yet, Corr claims that Philippine debt ratio will soar seven-fold in the Duterte era, whereas the DBM estimate offers evidence the debt could slightly decline. The difference between the two is almost 260 percent.

Today, Japan’s debt-to-GDP ratio exceeds 250 percent of its GDP. However, at the turn of the 1980s, the ratio was still closer to 40 percent, or where the Philippine level is today. Yet, Corr claims the Duterte government would need barely four years to achieve not only Japan’s debt ratio today but a level that would be another 50 percent higher!

The realities are very different, however. The contemporary Philippines enjoys sound macroeconomic fundamentals, not Marcos-era vulnerability. Moreover, Corr’s tacit association of Duterte’s infrastructure goals with former President Marcos’s public investment program (and the associated debt crisis in the 1980s) proves hollow. Duterte is focused on infrastructure (his infrastructure budget as percentage of GDP is 2 to 3 times higher in relative terms).

Today, borrowing conditions are also more favorable (365-day Treasury bill rates are 3 to 4 times lower than in the Marcos era). Furthermore, the Philippine gross international reserves, which amount to 9 months, are relatively highest among Asean economies and 3 to 4 times higher than in the Marcos era (Figure 2).

In addition to realities, Corr’s analysis ignores the dynamics of debt. Any country’s debt position is not just the nominal amount of the debt, but its value relative to the size of the economy. An economy that is barely growing and suffers from dollar-denominated debt lacks capacity to pay off its liabilities, as evidenced by Greece. In contrast, with its strong growth record, the Philippines has the capacity to grow while paying off its liabilities.

Geopolitical agendas, economic needs

Corr could have challenged DBM’s assumptions about Philippine future growth, potential increases in infrastructure budget, contingent adverse shifts in the international environment and so on, but his purposes may be political.

He is close to US Pentagon and intelligence communities, which strongly oppose Duterte’s recalibration of Philippine foreign policy between the US and China. According to the US Naval Institute, he has visited all South China Sea claimant countries and undertaken “field research” in Vietnam, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Brunei. He has been an associate for Booz Allen Hamilton (as once was Edward Snowden). Though he has ties with international multilateral banks, he is less of an “economic hit man” and has more interest in US security matters.

Corr led the US Army social science research already in Afghanistan and conducted analysis at US Pacific Command (USPacom) and US Special Operations Command Pacific (Socpac) for US national security in Asia, including in the Philippines, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Currently, he is researching Russia and Ukraine for the Pentagon. He has urged President Trump to use stronger military presence in the South China Sea, bullied Pakistan with sanctions, and supported independentistas in Hong Kong and Taiwan, labeled Chinese students abroad as Beijing’s informants, while exploring US nuclear options against North Korea.

Such objectives are far from neutral economic observation, but they do reflect political partisanship that is typical of Washington’s neoconservative and liberal imperial dreams– but not the views of most Americans, according to major polls.

In the Philippines, Duterte’s supporters see Chinese debt as a business deal that will ultimately support the country’s future. After Forbes, the Duterte government’s critics were quick to report the story, but without appropriate examination of its economic assertions and possible strategic motives. Overall, while liberals tend to oppose the debt plans for geopolitical reasons, their economists are more sympathetic.

In any real assessment, simple realism should prevail: When the rate of economic expansion exceeds that of debt growth, low-cost financing for public projects can make a vital contribution to the Philippines’ economic long-term future.

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