AS you were reading this, dear readers, yours truly and our group of aging, nye, veteran newsmen, would be in Xiamen, the third and final leg of our 10-day visit to mainland China and where we would be boarding a PAL flight (thankfully not Cebu Pac) back to Manila.
We landed in Beijing last Saturday and I am personally glad that our best “China hand,” Amb. Chito Sto. Romana, found the time to “open” the Philippine Embassy to our group the following day, a Sunday, where he gave us a sort of ‘tour-de-force’ of our relationship with China, the place where he got “stranded” when martial law was declared by Pres. Marcos in 1972.
On Monday, September 23, we were “ushered,” so to speak, inside China’s Foreign Ministry building in Beijing where we were welcomed by counselor, Mr. Sun Yi.
Mr. Sun Yi also knows our country quite well; he had been posted in Manila twice, the first, from 2010-2012, during the “Ice Age” of our relationship with China under the forgettable regime of Noynoy Aquino.
He again went back to Manila when Pres. Duterte became president in 2016 and had just been recently recalled early this year while waiting for a possible ambassadorial post.
The BJRN, spearheaded by the ‘All China Journalists Association’ (ACJA) is intended to promote, thru their respective national media organizations, the unity, understanding and cooperation of all the people in the nations and regions who benefited, oneway or another, from the fabled ‘Silk Road’ of ancient China.
And the message that China’s MFA would like to convey is that our bilateral relationship shall remain strong, despite the “irritants” in this relationship brought mainly by our differing positions in the SCS/WPS.
In particular, the MFA assured that China is fully committed to support PDU30’s centre piece program, the ‘Build, Build Build’ infrastructure project. As Mr. Sun Yi puts it, “our differences is a tiny part of our bilateral relationship.”
In this meeting, by the way, I raised the possibility of more Filipino journalists (read: NPC members) also being given the same “royal treatment” (all expense paid familiarization tour) accorded to us so they can see for themselves the immense and life-changing developments that have been happening in “New China” since its founding 70 years ago.
And the good news, mga kapatid, is yes, this can be arranged, kaya… abangan!
We are already in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, when I got the chance to type and send this piece (the internet service in Beijing is, as always, severely limited).
And yes, Jose, going here is another “novel experience” for most of us, as we got the chance to ride one of their “bullet trains” which is based and actually manufactured here by China Railways (CRI).
I forgot to check the actual distance but we covered the trip from Beijing in 5 hours of safe and comfortable ride at a speed of 350 km/hr. On arrival, we immediately proceeded to the Changsha Exhibition Hall where we were dazzled by their very modern and interactive museum and exhibit hall— nothing compares with it back home.
Changsha suffered an almost unending series of devastation (aside from natural calamities), first in the hands of Japanese imperialism and in between, from the contending forces of Chairman Mao and the Koumintang.
But today, there is no “scar” to be seen in this bustling city of about 8 million people, which is also now one of the centres of China’s industrial and technological prowess; everywhere one look, there is construction going on, especially for new, high-rise buildings.
On Wednesday, we visited the ‘BROAD Group,’ a highly-diversified business conglomerate.
Its main business are in engineering and construction anchored on constant innovations and initiatives — it once built a 57-storey building in only 19 days, a feat that is yet to be duplicated by any other construction company anywhere in the world, the Americans and the Europeans included.
Already too, its founder, Zhang Yue, who likes to call himself the ‘Thomas Edison’ of China, holds the patent for 466 inventions, all of which are now being put to practical use by the company he founded with just US$3,000 capital in 1988 (in 2002, it was praised for being China’s biggest taxpayer among its capitalist class).
Juliet Jiang, BROAD Vice President who briefed us on the company’s history, said they too, are very much eager to support PDU30’s BBB program and even expressed their desire to build the world’s tallest building in the Philippines!
And given this company’s many success stories not only in China but elsewhere including in the United States, there is no doubt in my mind, Pres. Duterte, that BROAD can “walk the talk” and build for us this new symbol of our national pride in record time too!
When I asked Ms. Jiang “how tall” this building would be, she said “it’s a secret; if our competitors learned about it, they might outbuild us.” Oo nga naman, hehehe!
But to give me an idea, Ms. Jiang said this building should be in the range of 1,300 meters; horizontally, this translate to 1.3 kilometres, dear readers.
Ang tanong na lang natin, “ano” naman ang “ilalagay” natin sa building na yan, aber?
Well, why not make it the country’s “New Government Building” where the entire bureaucracy of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government can be located?
I mean, this would greatly reduced red tape and should also increase transparency in government.
Kumbaga, hindi na dapat mahirapan ang taumbayan na makipagtransaksyon sa gobyerno dahil isang “gusali” na lang ang pupuntahan nating lahat, hindi ba?
There are more stories to tell in our visit here in China, dear readers, kaya… abangan!