BEIJING: With three to five layers of clothing from head to foot, China’s biting cold winter weather still penetrates into my frail body that is used to Manila’s tropical climate.
And as I set foot on the base of the Badaling section of China’s famous Great Wall, I wondered how I could climb up the long and steep steps up to the second peak. But the Chinese saying that “no mountain is too high for a man to scale and no road too long for a man to walk” challenged me to go on and reach the peak.
Taking my steps slowly and pausing once in a while to look at the breathtaking view around me and the steep steps that I have hurdled, I managed to reach the second peak in 30 minutes, until it was time to go back to get on the bus. If there was still time, I could perhaps convince myself to go on and on until I get to the highest peak.
As I was going down back to the base, I thought to myself that keeping a positive attitude has kept me going, but I should have prepared myself for the climb so that I could reach my goal in a shorter time.
However, I was happy enough that I managed to stay the course and kept moving forward until I reached my goal despite the cold winter breeze and the threats of aching legs. I regret not climbing the wall the first time I was there in 1988.
In the first of two weeks that I am now here in China, I have been hearing a lot about positivity, inclusivity, and connectivity. I am here with The Manila Times editor in chief Nerilyn Tenorio and Manila Bulletin’s editor Jojo Panaligan as part of a media delegation that attended the seventh 10+3 Media Cooperation Forum organized by People’s Daily, the largest and most influential newspaper in China with a circulation of three million, and the news organ of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
The Chinese government, through People’s Daily, gathered more than 60 media representatives from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Japan, South Korea and China, as well as from South Asian countries Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, for a discussion on the media’s role in achieving the goals of the China initiative for a “21st century Maritime Silk Road.”
The speakers led by Yang Zhenwu, president of People’s Daily, and diplomats from some Asian countries, as well as executives of various media entities in the region had a common message that the media is an important part in the ambitious effort to link Asia Pacific countries economically, socially, and culturally despite their enormous differences.
The common ground was to be positive, constructive, innovative, and inclusive.
Yang explained that Chinese President Xi Jinping envisioned the 21st century Maritime Silk Road to open up a new road of navigation, of peaceful exchanges among like-minded people for their mutual benefits under “an environment of peace, friendship, free trade and mutual respect. . . never invading.”
Chinese President Xi first broached the idea of building the 21st century Maritime Silk Road during his state visit to Indonesia in October last year, carrying on the spirit of openness and inclusiveness as the ancient maritime routes of the Silk Road did in linking China with East Asia, Southeast Asia and South Asia.
He said that while it was an initiative of China, its benefits will not be exclusive to China but also to all countries in the region.
China is starting the ball rolling with an initial capital of $500 billion for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to finance various infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and special economic zones that are necessarily to link the participating countries.
Prof. Ding Yifan, a Chinese scholar with specialization on economics and trade, said that the Philippines, being an important part of Asean, should be included in the Maritime Silk Road which was designed to enhance economic cooperation among neighboring countries.
However, he candidly admitted that the Philippine government’s adversarial position on the disputed islands in the West Philippine Sea could isolate it from the navigational route.
Discussions about the territorial disputes over the tiny islands on the West Philippine Sea, or the South China Sea deserve another piece on another time.
Meanwhile, we cannot discount China’s overwhelming influence over most of the countries in the Asia Pacific region.
China is the biggest trading partner, largest export market and a major source of investment for many of the economies in the region. In 2012, China accounted for more than 50 percent of Asia’s economic growth.
By 2020, it hopes to double its 2010 double-digit economic growth rate and aims to set the Asian economic standards as the new global standards through varied ways of connecting with its neighbors to show its strength.
As President Xi said in one of his recent speeches: “A wise man changes his ways as circumstances change; a knowledgeable person alters his means as times evolve.”
He said it to stress that in pursuing the goals of the 21st century Maritime Silk Road, it will keep pace with the changing times instead of carrying on the outdated thinking of the Cold War era. That is why China now aggressively advocates common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable development of Asia in the economic, political, security, social and cultural fronts.
And it is pursuing with equal vigor the cooperation of the Asian media in creating awareness and shaping public opinion toward achieving its development goals through the keywords positivity, inclusivity and connectivity.