Philippine governor calls for boycott of 'Made in China' products

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a political ally of President Benigno Aquino III, on Sunday called on Filipinos to boycott Chinese products as a strong signal against Beijing's "bullying" in connection with the Spratly Islands dispute.

"Let us boycott 'Made in China' products. Buy Filipino. Let us hurt them where it counts," Salceda said in his Independence Day speech at the provincial hall in Legazpi City.

By not buying Chinese, he said, "we also protect our children and communities from the pervasive and persistent risks of various types of contamination and poor quality of their products."

In a program held at Peñaranda Park, Salceda explained that with "military provocation" not being considered an option, getting back at China through trade had become the only viable alternative for ordinary Filipinos.

He also conceded that the Philippines could not depend on other countries or on "the shield of mutual defense treaties" in dealing with China's repeated intrusions in Spratlys and the West Palawan Sea.

He denounced the intrusions as "not only threatening to our national sovereign territory but also … to our dignity as a race and as a nation."

Speaking to reporters after the speech, Salceda maintained that he was "not against the Chinese people who are here in our country, but I am against imported China products."

The Philippines posted a $900-million trade deficit with China in 2010. The country imported $7 billion worth of goods from China while shipping a little over $6 billion in exports to China.

But Salceda, a former stock market analyst and economic adviser to the previous administration, said the trade deficit may actually be bigger since an estimated $3 billion worth of cheap Chinese goods were being smuggled and sold particularly in Manila's Divisoria market.

Salceda said boycotting China-made goods would force exporters to seek alternative markets for their products and prompt industries to get their inputs from other sources.

He said China had very little foreign direct investments and soft loans to the country and most of the Filipino workers were deployed in Hong Kong and Macau, not in the Chinese mainland.

"The consequences of a China economic reprisal are offset by the strategic benefits of national unity and dignity which by themselves are priceless. The risks of a China boycott are reasonable and affordable when compared to the costs to national well-being of other options or of doing nothing," the governor stressed.

"Sure, it will not bring mighty China to its knees but it would make it loud and clear to the imperial mandarins of Beijing that all Filipinos are united in their sentiment: Enough of the bullying that tramples upon our dignity as a nation," he added.