Oct 182014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2007/03/07MANILA854.html#

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MANILA854 2007-03-15 09:41 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Manila
VZCZCXRO6006
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #0854/01 0740941
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 150941Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5691
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING IMMEDIATE 6034
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU IMMEDIATE 4308
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG IMMEDIATE 4556
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI IMMEDIATE 1451
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 000854

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2012
TAGS: PREL SCUL SOCI XE CH TW RP
SUBJECT: PHILIPPINES’ CHINESE SCHOOLS: A BATTLEGROUND FOR PRC/TAIWAN RIVALRY

Classified By: Pol/C Scott Bellard, reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) Summary: The People’s Republic of China is playing
an increasingly prominent role in promoting Chinese
language/cultural education in the Philippines, primarily by
engaging with Filipino-Chinese schools – historically
pro-Taiwan institutions. Since 2003, the PRC has sent over
100 student-teachers to work at these schools, and another
150 student-teachers are expected to arrive in 2007. Of
special note is a shift toward the PRC even by Chiang Kai
Shek College. This academic rivalry is only one aspect of
what many see as a zero sum competition. End Summary

——-
Tsinoys

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——-

¶2. (U) Depending on the source and the exact definition of
Filipino-Chinese (popularly known as “Tsinoys”) the
Philippines has between 1 and 4 million Filipinos of Chinese
descent. Although the community is known for having produced
some extremely wealthy individuals or “taipans,” including
airline/whiskey mogul Lucio Tan and real estate giant Henry
Sy, most Tsinoys are middle class.

¶3. (U) The Philippines has a long tradition of privately
run Chinese schools that cater to this community, especially
in Metro Manila, since the opening of the first in 1899.
Today, there are 131 such schools nationwide, with
approximately 100,000 students. In addition to offering the
standard curriculum prescribed by the Philippine Department
of Education, most also conduct two hours of Chinese classes
daily, the maximum allowed by law.

¶4. (C) According to Michael Hsu, Deputy Director of the
Political Affairs Division of the Taipei Economic and
Cultural Office (TECO), these schools historically looked for
guidance and assistance to Taiwan, not the People’s Republic
of China (PRC). Other observers have noted that the Fujian
origins of so many Tsinoys accounted for the pro-Taiwan
sensibilities, as well as the Philippines’ alliance with the
U.S., especially strong during the Cold War era. .

———–
PRC inroads
———–

¶5. (SBU) The PRC government currently supports an intern
“practicum” program under which PRC college students,
primarily from Fujian Normal University and Quanzhou Normal
University, travel to the Philippines to teach for one year
at these schools. Since the inception of the program in
2003, the number of student-teachers in the Philippines has
risen from 17 in the first year to 100 in 2006. An estimated
150 student-teachers will participate in 2007. School
administrators have noted that these student-teachers are a
particularly attractive option for many schools, especially
in the rural provinces of the Philippines, because of their
low cost. Some rural schools have as many as ten PRC
student-teachers on their staffs. The Federation of
Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry provides
an additional $100 monthly stipend for the student-teachers.

¶6. (C) A leading Jesuit school, Ateneo de Manila University,
has since 2005 hosted a Confucius Institute in the
Philippines with some support from the PRC. The Institute
offers teacher training, language courses, cultural
activities, and a resource center with Chinese language and
Chinese studies materials. According to Ellen Palanca,
Director of Ateneo’s Chinese Studies Program, the Institute
caters both to students and the general public and will
accommodate the increased demand for Chinese language
courses. The Institute offers courses in Mandarin using the
simplified Chinese script. At present, the school employs
one Chinese language teacher from the PRC, but expects to add
another this year. Palanca explained that the Confucius
Institute opened at a university, rather than at a high
school, in order to maximize its impact with the broader
public. Palanca commented that the PRC’s educational
outreach is a “natural” component of the PRC’s more energetic
foreign policy.

———————————–
Test case: Chiang Kai Shek College
———————————–

¶7. (C) According to TECO’s Hsu, Chiang Kai Shek College,
the largest “Chinese” school in the Philippines with

MANILA 00000854 002 OF 002

thousands of students from grade one through college and the
graduate level, is a good barometer of the PRC’s successes in
making inroads into traditional “allies of Taiwan.”
Traditionally, the school routinely sent students to study in
Taiwan, used books provided by Taiwan, and coordinated with
TECO over programs and assistance. Furthermore, the school
still teaches using traditional characters, as found in
Taiwan, although PRC DCM Deng Xijun told poloffs separately
that he was still working hard to convince the school that
knowledge of simplified characters would be of far more
benefit to students in the world market and with modern
computer software. According to Daniel Laogan, a prominent
Filipino-Chinese attorney and a Chiang Kai Shek College
graduate, the “unspoken secret” is that the school had
received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” over the years
from the Kuomintang Party.

¶8. (C) According to Hsu, the PRC Embassy since 2005 had
cultivated an active relationship with the school. The
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines twice visited the
school (the initial visit was the first by a PRC ambassador),
and he has also now been the guest of honor at the opening
ceremony of the College’s annual basketball tournament. The
College currently employs five teachers from the PRC. In
2007, it began organizing study-abroad programs with several
PRC colleges, with the first batch of 15 students going for
language training to Fujian Normal University as part of its
undergraduate degree program in Chinese Language Education.

¶9. (C) Joan Sy-Cotio, the College’s President, declined to
comment on whether the school was shifting its focus to the
PRC, but observed that the faculty, along with most of the
Tsinoy community, desires “one China” and is “very much

SIPDIS
against Taiwan declaring independence.” She characterized
PRC engagement with her school as “aggressive,” but insisted
that “her friends at the Chinese Embassy” are not interested
in “pushing Taiwan out of the school.” Laogan separately
predicted that the school would nonetheless change its name
in the “near future.” He noted that this act, while
symbolic, would mark the “end of Taiwan’s domination” of the
Chinese schools in the Philippines.

——-
Comment
——-

¶10. (C) The PRC/Taiwan rivalry in the Philippines is not
limited to academic affairs, with similar jockeying going on
in economic, business, commercial, and cultural sectors.
Most, especially at TECO and the PRC Embassy, see this as a
zero sum game, with much more at stake than symbolism or
education.
KENNEY

   

 

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