Evils of online gambling outweigh gains

China has intensified its crackdown against online gambling in the past months. Reported extensively only in Chinese media, China conducted several big raids and arrests of gambling operators with ties to the Philippines. Apparently, after illegal online gambling operators in the Philippines were arrested, the reports say, the Chinese government was able to gather data and information on operators in China that led to their arrests.
The Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order has been sounding the alarm over the havoc wrought by gambling – legal or not – involving Chinese nationals. Casino-related kidnappings have become rampant. Chinese nationals who fail to pay their gambling debts are beaten up, tortured and maimed by syndicates if their families in China cannot pay off the debts.
Suicides – particularly jumping off buildings – have been increasing too, though the police claim they don’t have exact figures.
A few months ago, there were news reports about the rescue by the Philippine Coast Guard of a Chinese woman who tried to swim her way across the South China Sea back to China. The 18-year-old victim was apparently suffering from depression while working in a casino in Sta. Ana, Cagayan province. This incident is not an isolated case, Chinese newspapers report.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. says the country expects to earn P6 billion from online gaming revenues by tightening its audit of Philippine Offshore Gambling Operators. But despite tightening its controls, illegal online gambling continues to proliferate. The Philippines is now known for being second only to Macau in Asia for the total number of casinos.
I don’t think the billions our economy gets from money earned from gambling, legal or not, can compensate for the high social cost of crimes: the havoc wrought by the deluge of casino-related drug operations and other crimes, the broken homes, business bankruptcy and suicides spawned by gambling debts.
Some sectors dispute my contention and claim that the deluge of recent Chinese immigrants spur Philippine economic growth. A study by IDSI points out that Ayala Land Inc.’s sales increased in the past year. Half the buyers are foreign, specifically, P15 billion in sales came from Chinese buyers. It added to the gains that redound directly to the Philippine economy because of the multiplier effect of real estate sales in diverse industries including construction, retail, restaurants, waiters, service providers, taxis, drivers, sales agents.
The Philippines welcomes with open arms Chinese tourists, professionals, students, legitimate businessmen and investors. They do contribute considerably to economic growth. But sadly, their numbers are overwhelmed by the vast majority who visit our shores due to online gambling. The crimes spawned by the evils of gambling are not far behind. No matter how these Chinese nationals spend P50,000 to P100,000 in rental, food and other expenses, they still don’t compensate for the harm the Philippines suffers from the presence of such criminals.

A war no one wins
Fu Ying, vice chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee of China’s National People’s Congress and of the Academic Committee of China’s Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, published a signed article in Bloomberg dated Sept. 11, 2018 and titled: “How China Should Respond to a Changing US.” The full article may be too long, and it can be accessed through https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-09-10/china-sees-that-u-s-trade-will-benefit-both-countries.
I picked three essential points in her article:
“China isn’t America’s only failure – nor the worst one. In fact, given what’s happened to some countries since the ‘color revolutions’ and the ‘Arab Spring,’ the US should be thankful that its efforts haven’t thrown China into political turmoil and economic chaos. The fact that China has maintained social and political stability and followed its own economic path has contributed to global economic growth, especially after the 2008 financial crisis. Rather than draining US finances the way the nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have, China has added greatly to American prosperity.”
“…The Chinese have to stay cool-headed in the face of tough but confusing messages from the US. We must stay focused on China’s development, and overcome our own difficulties. …Finger-pointing and hurting each other won’t solve any problems. They will only make things worse. This is why China will continue to work with all countries, including the US, in areas of mutual concern – from climate change to transnational crime to epidemics to nuclear nonproliferation.”
Wise words indeed.
The United States’ trade war against China continues to rage on despite grave protests by China and even by Americans who know that it is a war the US cannot win. In response to more than US$500 billion (P21.14 trillion) in tariffs on goods from China, Beijing imposed tariffs on US agriculture in retaliation, including duties on soybeans.
In July 2018, CNBC news reported that China buys about two-thirds of the world’s soybean exports, using most of it for soy protein to feed roughly 700 million pigs in the country or to make cooking oil. The soy also is used for feeding poultry and to support the country’s fish farming sector. Chinese buyers have scrapped US soybean orders in the past few months since the trade war escalated and they have continued since the tariffs went into effect earlier this month.
When farmers wake up to find their biggest market for soybeans gone, there is no one to blame but their president, Donald Trump.
As well, CNBC reported that experts believe political factors drove Beijing to use soybeans as a weapon in the US-China trade war.
China buys roughly half of US soybean exports, and roughly one in three rows of soybeans grown on the nation’s farms goes to the world’s second-largest economy.
Top soybean-producing states include Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio. Trump won all but Illinois and Minnesota in the 2016 presidential election. Soybean prices have plunged nearly 20 percent since April when China first announced the 25 percent tariff on US soybeans. That means farmers are getting lower prices for the commodity, and at these levels some are not making enough to cover bills. Beijing started collecting the tariff on US soybeans on July 6.
Meanwhile, in the Philippines, President Duterte blames the trade war for the Philippine inflation crisis. He claims that China-made products are now more expensive and has caused an increase in domestic prices also. While our President’s imagination is too far-fetched, the US-China trade war has global repercussions. In this global economy, not one nation can survive in isolation from others. What happens in one part of the world affects the global community in varying degrees.