Chinese workers are “flooding” the Philippines.
That’s according to a story published recently in South China Morning Post. Worse, Duterte’s administration is losing count of how many Chinese workers are in the country legally or illegally, according to the same source.
The flood of Chinese workers follows Duterte’s abandoning the Philippines close ties with the US and the cozying up to China.
This major shift in the country’s foreign policy includes a big flip-flop on the South China Sea disputes, and allegedly, an agreement between China and the Philippines to relax visa restrictions.
A total of 3.12 million Chinese citizens entered the Philippines from January 2016 to May 2018, according to the Bureau of Immigration. Within these figures is a number of Chinese workers, which is still unknown.
What isn’t unknown is the number of Filipinos seeking jobs overseas, which reached 2.2 million as of 2016.
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That begs the question: Why is the Philippines opening up its labor market to foreign workers when it cannot provide jobs for its own people?
It is known that the Philippines unemployment rate stands at 5.1% in 2018, well above China’s 3.82%. Meanwhile, China’s GDP growth stands at 6.5%, well ahead of the Philippines 6.1%. That begs another question: Why are Chinese workers heading to the Philippines when there are better opportunities at home?
There are good answers to both questions. Duterte’s Philippines isn’t open just to Chinese workers. It is also open to Chinese contractors, real estate developers, gamblers, etc.
Chinese contractors have been heading to the Philippines to get a piece of the country’s infrastructure spending boom. “A combination of Philippines President Duterte’s USD180bn ‘Build, Build, Build’ program and the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative has created one of the largest infrastructure construction booms in Asia,” Eijas Ariffin in a piece in THE ASEAN POST.
And as is the case in Africa and other Asian countries Chinese contractors are bringing along their own engineers and their own workers.
Apparently, the pay is better than home.
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Meanwhile, Chinese citizens are snapping up local properties in rich districts. “In Manila’s main financial district and its fringes, signs of the new inhabitants are everywhere: the restaurants serving steaming Chinese hotpots and dumplings, Mandarin broadcasts at the Mall of Asia, and the soaring property prices,” reports Bloomberg.
Then there are gamblers heading to the Philippines, as the Chinese government cranks down on conspicuous gambling in Macau by its citizens. And as Chinese gamblers come to the Philippines, so do related businesses, like restaurants and entertainment staffed by Chinese workers.
“An estimated 100,000 migrants, mostly Chinese, have flooded into pockets of the Philippines capital since September 2016, and the deluge is rippling through the city’s real estate market in ways that are unique among the world’s urban centers,” continues the report.“While Chinese investors have been snapping up big swathes of high-end housing in Hong Kong, London and New York for years to move their money offshore, this new rush is motivated by something different: Manila’s booming gaming industry.”
Apparently, once again pay is better than home.
While China won’t turn the Philippines into another Sri Lanka anytime soon, it may turn it into a new Macau.
That won’t help Filipinos. They will still have to seek jobs overseas.
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