The indestructible Chinese


China and its people.  The Chinese are unique in a number of ways.  Their civilization and culture have experienced alternating periods of decline and revival throughout their more than 5,000 years of history and continue to exist (and flourish) to this day.  Except for the Jews, no other distinct races of people had been able to preserve their culture and civilization for so long, surviving milleniums of racial intermingling, foreign influence and the ravages of time.

Honed by milleniums of experience in industry and commerce, the Chinese have no equal in the field of business.  Today, China is the second largest economy in the world and the biggest “bankroller” of the largest but plodding U.S. economy.  It is even dubbed as “the workshop of the world.”

It would not be an exaggeration to say that without China, the entire world economy would decline if not collapse.

Yet China’s past behavior is no different from those of the other great empires of the past with respect to bloody conquest of foreign territories.  From the time it was founded by its first emperor Chin Shi Huang Di, to the conquests of the Qin, Han, Tang and Ming dynasties, to its illegal annexation of Tibet in the early 1950s, the history of China is written in iron and blood.

How are the Chinese able to keep “reinventing” themselves from long periods of political and economic decline?  Some say that the Chinese accomplish big things, really big things like the ancient Wall of China, by their sheer numbers (now totalling 1.3 billion people).  Others suggest that the Confucian virtues of hard work, social duty, and total obedience to their emperor make the Chinese people the ideal subjects of ruthless rulers bent on accomplishing great things at all cost.  In yet another view, some political analysts conclude that, historically, China develops itself by enslaving its own people and the population of its conquered territories.

What is certain is that after opening up to market economy in the 1980s and years of relentless pursuit of export-oriented industries, China today is a military and economic powerhouse which is once more poised to project and assert its might beyond its borders.

This was recently demonstrated by the intrusion of Chinese naval vessels into the waters of Panatag Shoal, 135 nautical miles off Masinloc, Zambales, which prevented the troops of a lone Philippine Navy cutter from arresting the crew of eight Chinese fishing vessels for illegal fishing and poaching of endangered marine species in the area.  Before this, in 1995, China harassed and wore down the Philippines into submission at Panganiban Reef, 130 nautical miles off the province of Palawan and now home to a pre-positioned Chinese garrison with naval guns, anti-aircraft battery and early warning radars.

Both tiny “rock formations” in the West Philippine Sea are well within the Philippine 200-mile exclusive economic zone granted by the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, of which China and the Philippines are signatory countries.


Philippine experience with China.  From the time of the earliest known contacts between pre-colonial Filipinos and Chinese merchants, our experience with the Chinese has not always been good.  Periodic sackings of the Philippine northern islands and coastal settlements by the Chinese pirates Limahong (in the late 16th century) and Koxinga (in the mid 17th century) had instilled fear and mistrust of the Chinese among colonial Filipinos.  Fear and mistrust turned to resentment during the height of illegal mass migration by Chinese peasants and slave workers escaping hard life in declining China from mid to late 19th century.  The introduction of opium in the country by Chinese merchants and immigrant users around this period continues to menace Philippine society in today’s illicit drug traffic and supply from the Chinese criminal underworld.

By the beginning of the last century, a wealthy landowning class of Chinese with “Hispanized” names emerged.  Gaining central position in the cash-crop economy of the period (largely through money lending and trading of agricultural produce), the Chinese soon dominated the production, processing and trade of agricultural products in the country.  The deep-seated perception of the Chinese as enterpreneurs backed by a Chinese cartel that stamp out competition from other groups stemmed from their monopolistic business practices and non-assimilation to their host society during the period.

The second half of the last century saw the birth of communist China and the emergence of the Cold War.  When the Korean War broke out in the early 1950s, the Philippines sent thousands of combat troops to the United Nations expeditionary forces that staved off the invasion of South Korea by the joint military forces of North Korea and China.  On the home front, the Chinese supported and armed local communist insurgency waged and continues to engage in running battles against the Philippine military for more than forty years now, leaving 40,000 insurgents, soldiers and civilians dead, and causing immeasurable damage to property, displaced families, and the economy.

Today, the Chinese dominate industry and commerce at every level of Philippine society.  Numbering only 1% of our total population, the Chinese own and control 70% of the private economy of the country.  The parochial influence they exert on Philippine politics and the government exacerbates labor and social tensions in the country.

Facilitated by its government lobby and influence, the Chinese business community is largely responsible for the “contractualization” of Philippine labor.  Contractualization keeps the wages of poor workers to the barest minimum, deprives them of job security and employment benefits, and emasculates the trade union movement in the country.  A study made on the hiring pattern of leading Chinese companies in the Philippines (particularly those in the retail/mall, food and semi-conductor industries) has revealed that more than 90% of the workers of these companies are either direct hired or concessionaire hired contractuals without any hope of becoming regular employees even if their employment contracts are repeatedly renewed. 

Of late, the anomalous ZTE-NBN and Northrail projects (both funded by “tied” loans from China with imposed Chinese contractors) sparked an uproar over the shady side of Chinese official development assistance (ODA), not only in the Philippines but in other countries as well where the Chinese transact ODA business.  The discovery of melamine-tainted infant milk and food products from China, here and abroad, only worsened the situation for the Chinese.

The Chinese dominance of every facet of Philippine society is evident in the big names of Chinese in government, business, politics, education, media, arts and entertainment, sports, and even religion.

It is untenable for any modern society to allow and endure the accumulation of too much wealth and power by a mere 1% of its populace while the vast majority of the 99% live in grinding poverty and deprivations.

Author:  Rene “RC” Catacutan
Published 21 July 2012

Related photos

Image of China’s founder and first emperor Chin Shi Huang Di (photo credit:





A segment of the “Great Wall of China” (photo credit:Wikipedia)

A statue of Confucius in Beijing (photo credit:

Invasion of Limahong“, a 1956 painting by national artist Carlos “Botong” Francisco.  Limahong was a notorious Chinese pirate and warlord who terrorized and sacked Philippine northern islands and coastal settlements in the late 16th century (photo credit: WikiPilipinas)

Statue of Koxinga in Fujian, China.  Koxinga was a Chinese merchant/pirate who raided coastal towns in northern Philippines in the mid 17th century (photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mao Zedung (or Mao Tse Tung) proclaiming the establishment of communist China in 1949 (photo credit: Wikipedia)





Filipino combat troops in action during the Korean War (photo credit:





Members of the rebel New People’s Army, the armed unit of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), stand in formation during the 40th anniversary celebrations of the CPP (photo credit: Yahoo! News)





Slum dwellings of poor Filipinos against a backdrop of skyscrapers in a business and commercial district (photo credit:

Group of some 700 islands, islets, reefs and atolls in the West Philippine Sea that are claimed either in whole or in part by the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei (photo credit: The Manila