The DFA’s position on the boycott of China-made goods

The banner headline of one Filipino American newspaper was “No to China boycott, says homeland”. This and other similar headlines were drawn from the news article which appeared in the Manila Bulletin on June 19, 2015 (“DFA says no to China boycott of China-made goods” by Roy Mabasa) which covered the response of Charles Jose, the spokesman of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), to a press query about whether the DFA was supporting the boycott of China goods initiated by the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG).

“We are not advocating that (boycott of China-made products),” said Jose in a press briefing. “Our position is that this is not the sum total of our overall relationship with China. We still have a lot of areas of cooperation with them that includes trade and investment, tourism, education and culture and people to people contacts. We would like to continue with this cooperation, we would like to strengthen and promote these other areas of cooperation that is why we deal separately with the South China Sea issue, he added.”

Unfortunately, the DFA spokesman’s statement was, in many cases, misinterpreted and even exaggerated to make it appear that the DFA was flatly rejecting the boycott of China-made goods.

Ted Laguatan, a spokesman of USP4GG, issued the group’s response to the DFA statement. “I can understand how diplomatic concerns make the government hesitant to endorse the boycott,” he said.
“But the DFA should also have shown respect and support for its own citizens and citizens of other countries who are legitimately and correctly protesting China’s rogue bullying actions which even the allies of the Philippines like the U.S., Japan, Australia and the other G-7 countries have strongly criticized. They also have called for the halt of these islands expansion and military infrastructure constructions.”
What should the DFA spokesman have said?
According to Laguatan, the DFA spokesman should simply have stated: “We have a democratic government. The other countries like the United States and in Europe and Australia – where boycott Made in China products demonstrations took place – are also democratic countries. People here and there are free and in fact encouraged to express their views – and we have to respect their legitimate and peaceful exercise of their Constitutional rights. Then say nothing more. The DFA would simply be saying what is true and what is right.”
For the DFA spokesman to declare that the DFA does not endorse the call for the boycott of “Made in China” products may be interpreted to mean that the DFA is endorsing the buying of China-made products.
As Laguatan said, “China’s enormous present political and military power stems from her sudden surge of economic power. The civilized world can put China’s rogue behavior in line by making her aware that her economy can suffer if she continues with her bullying ways. This is the purpose of the legitimate campaign to expand the boycott of made in China products. Yet the Philippine government says it is against this boycott.”

“Our officials are so afraid of China, their fear blinds them from seeing the total picture and thinking more clearly. Putting together a small group of effective deep thinkers regarding China matters and issues – committed to truly loving their fellowmen and not governed by fear – is in order – for the Philippine to come up with more intelligent courageous moral policies. Random reactions to situations without deeper thought – is not the way to go. Openly saying that the government does not endorse the boycott of made in China products is a clear manifestation of shoddy random government thinking on important matters.”

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