At present, China is world’s second-largest economy and most populous country. This country belongs to 20% of the world’s population and 13% of world economy. After socialistic market system reform in 1978, China has shifted from central economy-controlled administration to free market economy and has experienced exponential economic growth and development. Since then, growth in GDP was nearly 10% a year on average and more than 850 million people have raised themselves out of poverty. If it continues, ‘China will surpass the US to become the world’s largest economy by 2030’says HSBC economics team. With a population of 1.3 billion, China has been the largest single contributor to world growth since the global financial crisis in 2008. In 2017, the Chinese GDP in nominal terms stood at $12.01 trillion. In terms of GDP in PPP, China is the largest economy with a GDP (PPP) of $23.15 trillion and by 2023, China’s GDP (PPP) expected to be $37.06 trillion, which will be highest. In recent years, the pace of growth has slowed although it remains high in comparison to its peer countries. By 2015, China reached all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and put major role to achievement of the MDGs globally.
You might have known about ‘’Chinese Money Trap’’. It’s a strong maneuver to widen their empire. Let’s see what happened with island Sri Lanka; this developing country borrowed billions of dollars from china to build highways, skyscrapers and seaports. Lankan grew and prospered with their gigantic infrastructure. But, few years later they couldn’t pay back China its money with interest. A proverb remains; ‘’ there is no such a free lunch or a free ride in this world. The only resolve to this problem was to give China control over what they built of highways and ports. Only because of debt, Sri Lanka lost a piece of their land. China lent Papua New Guinea 2 billion dollars to build skyscrapers and infrastructure. There is no way that this underdeveloped country can return them credit. The Maldives, Pakistan, Laos, Magnolia, Kazakhstan, Egypt, Kenya, South Korea are struggling to pay back Chinese loans and becoming entangled in a Beijing-devised debt trap. Hence Chinese lending exclusively benefits China. Interestingly, all these countries’ projects, bridges, highways are linked with China which make vast, mighty ‘’Silk Road’’. Thus, the world will gradually be owned by them. Building infrastructure, airports and seaports are of philanthropic activities which lead to increased production as well as higher income of these developing countries and its people. Since, it brings very high cost to them they should choose alternative source.
China-Africa Cooperation on economic, cultural and military affairs is termed as Sino-African relationship. Africans have become indignant with this uneven relationships where Chinese policy makers realized that in order to sustain China’s high-level growth performance and its industrialization, the country needs to ensure its supply of natural resource from African countries and so as of colonial power China has taken ownership of African natural resources using Chinese labor and tools without transferring technology and skills. “China takes our primary goods and sells us manufactured ones. This was also the essence of colonialism,” Lamido Sanusi, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, said in the Financial Times in 2018. Copper-enriched Zambia is left behind persistent unemployment and poverty. It is Africa’s third-highest Chinese investment of Chinese investment wonders because of abortive attempt of their government’s dummed deals with the Chinese. Chinese managers of copper mines in Zambia regularly violate the rights of their employee by not ensuring safe working conditions according to a Human Rights Watch report. When Zambian miners of the Collum Coal Mine protested these poor circumstances, their Chinese owners fired gunshots at them, thirteen of them were injured. The director of public prosecutions in Lusaka, Zambia suddenly let go this criminal case against the managers due to pressure created for Chinese interests. This is the way how African labor-exploitation carries on by Chinese.
About 2,000 years ago, China’s royal diplomat Zhang Qian established the Silk Road, a linkage of trade routes which linked China to Central Asia and the Arab islands. The name derived from one of China’s most vital exports—silk. And the road paved the way of infrastructure and economic growth of this region for hundreds of years. The Belt and Road Initiative of Jinping is backed infrastructure. In 2013, president Xi Jinping on his speech in Kazakhstan mentioned the Ancient ‘Silk Road’. The ‘Road’ is the old Silk Road, invigorated to fit 21st century purposes by incorporating the old trade route. Chinese understood that, in order to be imperial, it is not enough for them to simply cheapen exported goods in Europe, Africa, America & thereby having current account surplus. It must also have control over means of delivery: the roads, ports, railways. In 2013, China’s president, Xi Jinping planned (The Belt Road Initiative) for One Belt One Road that links China and Europe along the ancient Silk Road. Ambitious OBOR project will connect 64 countries with 15 Chinese provinces with huge population of 4.4bn (when finished). Multi-trillion dollar development target, ‘One Belt One Road’ or ’New Silk Road’ is China’s plan to organize its trade with rest of the world & dominate world economy by building and controlling a network of ports, roads and power plants to deliver intermediary goods to China and manufactured goods to other countries. And thus the ultimate goal will be implemented making it manufacturing and exporting hub of electronic devices, machines, machinery parts and textiles.
The superhighway of Chinese economic dominance, ‘One Belt One Road’ term ‘Belt’ aims to connect Asia, Africa and Europe and has three routes starting in China. First route from China throughout South and South-East Asia to the Indian Ocean, Second one originating from China over central and West Asia to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. And third route, initiated from China and goes through central Asia to Europe and Russia. These three routes consist of six economic cooperation corridors including terrains of 25 different countries. The map above illustrates two roads. First is a maritime route from China to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean and second is one that links China to the Pacific Islands, as projected from the South China Sea to the Southern Pacific Ocean. The BRI also comprises power plants, mines, oil refineries, industrial parks, and fiber-optic networks?—?all are planned to make china center of global trade and commerce.This high-speedy train network links China with London. And gas pipelines spread from the Caspian Sea to China.
Now China is termed as ‘World’s factory’ and evolving technologies like artificial intelligence and 5G networks are also dominated by them. They also have telecomm and internet control. Tech-giants such as Huawei and ZTE are escalating the “digital Silk Road” of Chinese-built fiber-optic networks, Huawei has contracted with Mexico to make the largest public Wi-Fi network in Latin America and is building 5G networks within Europe. BRI (Belt Road Initiative) tends to make china a new form of imperialist. Vladimir Lenin (Bolshevik Revolutionary and head of Soviet Russia) quoted, ‘’Imperialism is the highest Stage of Capitalism’’. Therefore, we conclude that China is an imperialist country that it aims to dominate foreign markets uses its growing economic strength to affect political decisions in poorer countries as its engagement with Africa. Now it would be rational to conclude that China is indeed an imperialist country.
Instead of China, world’s underdeveloped and poor countries should depend on local funds, IDA (International Development Association) which provides loans & grants on easy terms and mild interest rates instead of China. IMF, UNCDF (UN Capital Development Fund) and any foreign country that offers easy loans might be alternative source of concessional debt. FOCAC (Forum ON China-Africa Cooperation, founded in 2000 to strengthen Sino-African economic, cultural and military affairs) has to play prime role to alleviate one–legged, Chinese interest gaining period. China’s business model compels us to buy the stuff they make, and they use the foreign currency we pay to buy necessities. We are accustomed to cheap & fragile Chinese products of low quality. This foolish chain should be broken as we can obtain better products from overseas.
The author is an undergraduate student at the University of Dhaka.