FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. Is in a way like US President Donald Trump as far as the use of social media is concerned. Both are fond of posting obnoxious messages, apparently because both are also obnoxious personalities. Even when Locsin was still a private person, some of his tweets so got him into trouble his children wanted him to let go of social media altogether.
This can be a letdown considering his background. His father was a long-time editor of the postwar Free Press, a hard-hitting magazine that nevertheless followed journalism tenets. Locsin now seems to revel in the shock and disdain his social media posts elicit. Which is unfortunate.
That hasn’t changed much even if Locsin now occupies a sensitive post in government. Again, that may not be surprising because the last time he was in the Cabinet (that was under the soft-spoken Cory Aquino), his obnoxious demeanor also got him embroiled in controversies. This just shows how difficult it is to change a man’s character.
Locsin’s recent mistake had him apologizing to China, whom the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte is subservient to. Locsin disparaged Mao Zedong in his tweets, apparently because he wanted the local communists to look bad. The Communist Party of the Philippines adheres to the so-called Maoist ideology (Marxism-Leninism-Maoism) and reveres Mao.
Locsin’s tweet mentioned the famine (without putting it in proper perspective) that hit China in the early years after Mao and the communists took over the government and even went personal, referring to the Chinese leader as “Mao Che Tutung” (“tutung” is supposedly burnt rice). He not only managed to be obnoxious. He also showed a lack of understanding of China’s political setup and unblemished history.
China is ruled by a communist party that still reveres Mao, who is idolized as the Great Helmsman. The worst thing to happen is when a foreign affairs secretary makes fun of a dead man that another country considers a hero, even a demigod. Despite all of Mao’s faults, China would never have become what it is now had the communist party that Mao led at that time not triumphed in 1949 against the Chiang Kai Shek-led government.
The Chinese leader that President Duterte is trying to be close to, Xi Jinping, is also the current head of the Chinese Communist Party and apparently wants to shape himself in Mao’s image. China may be outwardly capitalist, even imperialist, but the communist party rules it with an iron grip. In that political setup, Mao Zedong is not the Great Helmsman for nothing.
Locsin, like many other pro-Western people, imbibed much of the propaganda that the West threw around during the Cold War. Everything that emanated from China in the initial stages of communist rule was twisted by Western propaganda, including that famine. But look at where the erstwhile sleeping dragon is now. Which means that its leaders must also have done something right.
As for Locsin, I am hoping against hope that he would rein in his obnoxious ways.