Rice yields seeds of better China-Philippines ties

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2019/1/7 20:51:55

While Western media outlets keep a close eye on the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, the two main protagonists in the story are busy with another thing: hybrid rice.

With Chinese hybrid rice technology, Philippine farmers achieved higher average  yields of 4 tons per hectare in 2018 compared with 3.4 tons in 2003, media reports said, adding that rice output in the country has increased annually by 2.4 million tons.

A key to producing Philippine local hybrid rice seeds is collaboration with the Chinese team of Yuan Longping, the acknowledged father of hybrid rice.

Figures released by the World Bank in May 2018 showed some 22 million Philippine people - more than one-fifth of the population - lived below the national poverty line in 2015. Chinese hybrid rice technology can to some extent serve as an effective tool in the hands of Filipino farmers to fight poverty and hunger.

However, farmers in Southeast Asia get scant interest from Western media outlets, which focus instead on the steps Beijing and Manila may take with the South China Sea dispute.

On Monday, a US Navy ship sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Xisha Islands in the South China Sea. Some Western observers may hope China and the Philippines return to confrontation after the two countries' ties show signs of warming up in recent years, giving the US an excuse to get more involved in the South China Sea. However, we won't make their wish come true.

No matter how tough the South China Sea issue is, it doesn't represent the entirety of the China-Philippines relationship. While expressing territorial claims in the South China Sea, the Philippines also enjoys the economic driving force that comes from China.

Bilateral relations are complicated.

Since Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as the Philippines' president in 2016, bilateral relations have warmed up. Economic and trade exchanges are on the upswing, as the two countries expand cooperation in fields such as agriculture, tourism, real estate, infrastructure, manufacturing and energy.

Like China, the Philippines' primary strategy is to promote economic and social development. The South China Sea dispute sometimes puts pressure on economic ties, but economic cooperation can also be the key to the South China Sea dispute.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn


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