The sale of Bank of East Asia’s 26 US branches to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is now a point of contention between the Filipino-American Community and the Chinese government.
Rodel Rodis, president of the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) said, “The ICBB, which is the largest bank in the world, is owned by the People’s Republic of China. We believe this bank is the one funding the oil drilling operations in the Spratly Islands.”
The Philippines and China are in the middle of a territorial dispute over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. Eight out of the 250 islands in the Spratlys, the islands closest to the Philippines, are the ones reportedly rich in oil.
Rodis believes opposing ICBC’s latest acquisition would pressure the Chinese government to stop oil rigging in Philippine territory.
“China openly estimates that they can get $50 billion of oil in the Spratly Islands, the portion that belongs to the Philippines,” Rodis said. “We feel that $50 billion is the future of the Philippines.”
Last July 18, the USP4GG wrote a letter to the US Federal Reserve Bank opposing ICBC’s purchase of Bank of East Asia’s US units.
The group wants the Fed to compel ICBC to divulge all funding, directly or indirectly, of any ships or other instruments that are engaged in activities that defy international law.
Last week, the USP4GG and the National Asian America Coalition met with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, urging him to hold full public hearings at Federal Reserve offices so the people can express their thoughts on the Chinese government deal.
Rodis said, “This is an opportunity to tell China to start negotiating in good faith with the Philippines. Share some of that wealth.”
The Federal Reserve has not responded to this opposition. The counsel for the ICBC has refused to comment on the issue.