boycott of Chinese goods
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

Last June 22, dozens of Filipino and Vietnamese Americans staged a rally in New York during which they called for a boycott of Chinese-made products. The rally was in protest of Beijing’s “creeping aggression toward countries around the South China Sea.”

“Boycott made-in-China goods,” said Eric Lachica of the U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance, which organized the rally held in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Dr. Hoi Van Do, president of the Vietnamese community in Florida and one of the rally organizers, said his country and the Philippines are on the same side of the issue. “Communist China dominates and takes over our islands and Scarborough Shoal of the Philippines,” he told The FilAm newspaper.

It was also reported that Filipino and Vietnamese leaders are slated to meet with top executives of major retailers like Wal-Mart, Costco, K-mart and Home Depot to ask them to stop selling Chinese-made products.

Doctor Do and the other rally organizers said they were even willing to stay away from Chinese restaurants.

We beg to disagree with the rally organizers as we oppose the call for boycott of Chinese goods.

We fear that the boycott could prompt Chinese authorities to launch a counter-boycott, and this could mean a complete stoppage of importation of Philippine goods. They did this recently when they banned the entry of Philippine bananas, although they claimed that quarantine issue was the reason behind the ban.

Chinese quarantine officials barred the entry of Philippine bananas, claiming pest contamination. Of the 1,500 container vans of bananas sent to Beijing, Chinese quarantine officials allowed only 290 vans.

The Chinese counter-boycott could lead to mass layoff of thousands of banana farm workers in Mindanao. And the laid-off workers could become targets of recruitment by the communist New People’s Army, which is very active in Southern Philippines.

China is a major market not only for Philippine bananas but also for other Philippine consumer goods. On the other hand, China considers the Philippines as just as another source of imported products. The balance of trade between the two countries is heavily tilted in favor of China.

We likewise reject a plan calling for Filipinos and Vietnamese “to stay away from Chinese restaurants” here in the US. We believe such action is unfair to the restaurant owners who have nothing to do with the territorial dispute. Just like us, the owners have become more of Americans than Chinese.

The boycott could likewise adversely affect many American companies that have set up factories in China. The goods produced by the companies are sold here in the US.

It is our humble view that the territorial dispute could still be resolved through the diplomatic channels. Meanwhile, we should refrain from taking actions that can aggravate the dispute.