The celestial empire presents an opportunity for those who seek cheap products, don’t want a power which interferes in their internal affairs, and also for the states that have no territorial claims in the South China sea. At the same time, it presents a threat to those who are within it’s South China sea neighborhood (like the Philippines)(Peck, 2018), the traditional regional hegemon of USA, and the west in general, because China is seen as taking over that part of the world without resorting to Christian-missionary culture of spreading their beliefs and way of life, and might avenge for humiliations that have taken place in the last 170 years.
China was created along Confucian values, which are opposite to the Christian-western imperialistic, gospel spreading way of life.
Ever since Deng Xiao Ping opened up China for business, they have experienced rapid economic growth the likes of which have never been witnessed before. This growth that has taken place in the last 30 to 35 years has lifted more than half a billion people out of poverty and served as a model for other third world countries to follow.
China now, also is a testimony that you don’t need to follow western style democracy to gain economic development. The land of the Han people learnt from the mistake that the USSR made and only opened up to the world businesswise, but not politically. Western style democracy had disastrous consequences for Russia, where it brought abject poverty and saw the sale of billion-dollar state enterprises for peanuts, before the situation was arrested by Putin.
China on the other hand, knew quite well that a Confucian society wouldn’t be compatible with western style democracy, and hence decided to become a capitalist society in terms of business, but with the communists still in firm control of the political structure. So far this system has worked well.
As far as third world countries are concerned, China presents both an opportunity and a threat. The opportunity arises in the form of cheaper loans than those from the west, and also the conditions attached to the funds, and the fact that China doesn’t interfere in the internal affairs of sovereign countries. How many times in the last 50 years have we witnessed the nation killing tools of the west like the IMF and the World bank unleashed on poor and desperate countries like Zambia. The tactics of this greedy blood suckers are the same and predictable. They would approach a third world country in dire straits, give them a loan which they know that the poor country wouldn’t be able to pay, then come back after a few years and take over the prized assets of that country. (In the more severe case of Malawi, they were forced into a famine by being compelled to sell their grain reserves to pay back a loan)(Tatenda, 2016). And to add insult to injury, the poor country would be forced to cut back on social spending especially in education and healthcare, to ensure its slow and painful death. Add that to political interference, and being forced to vote with the west’s resolutions at the UN and other international bodies. China on the other hand hasn’t killed any third world country so far. And as of now, their loans are building critical infrastructures in countries like Kenya. China is also not forcing countries to adopt Confucian culture, neither are they forcing these poor countries to cut on their social spending. So in these instances, it’s clear to see why China has now eclipsed the west in terms of trade with Africa. This is due to the more favorable terms from Beijing that the west couldn’t give.
The one threat so far towards third world countries, is the dumping of substandard goods from China in third world markets. This is partly the fault of Chinese traders who are hell bent to export these types of goods, but also the fault of the corrupt Quality assurance and Standard bureaus of these third world countries whose bosses are poorly paid, and who are more than willing to look the other way for a few dollars. This has sometimes led to the dumping of substandard goods in third world states, which negatively affects their economies and leads to lowered consumer confidence.
For the rest of the world, and especially the west, China has been a conundrum. Many western companies have relocated to China to take advantage of cheap labor, readily available spare parts and economies of scale. China is one of the few countries in the world where you can order and get delivery of any amount of finished or raw goods within a short period of time. Also the government has designed the infrastructure to cater for businesses first and foremost. An example of this is the newly built superhighway system that is unapologetically designed to rush goods and services between the cities of Ningbo and Shaoxing within the larger economic zone of Hangzou.
Western companies have thus relocated en-masse to China, where they manufacture goods for cheap and sell their products in the west for humongous amounts of profit. Since China still follows a mainly authoritarian system of governance, employees aren’t cared for in the same way that we care for our employees here in the west. Reports of Chinese laborers being paid less than 4 dollars an hour and working 12 hour shifts for six days a week aren’t uncommon. But still, this type of environment is to the benefit of the corporation, and western companies have taken full advantage of it.
The other thing that is to the benefit of western companies is the presence of a well educated workforce. This comes in handy, especially when the need arises for the manufacture of electronic or medical devices. Since labor and raw materials are already cheaper and more readily available in China than anywhere else, the presence of a large and highly educated and submissive workforce willing to work many hours is something that western companies take full advantage of. Even the Chinese themselves take advantage of this situation. A good example is the e-commerce giant Alibaba’s boss who boasted that it was a ‘blessing’ that his employees work those long 12 hour shifts (Sowmiya, 2019).
When it comes to the threats against the west posed by a rising China, there are a myriad of them. The first one is against Taiwan, a country whom China has repeatedly claimed to be part of the larger China, and repeatedly said that they would take it back someday peacefully or with force. Since Taiwan has a defense treaty with the United States, a war of aggression against Taiwan would force the USA to militarily intervene, and this would lead to a largescale war.
The other threat posed by China is in terms of its increasing military. China has increased its military expenditure by more than 7 percent every year for the last 10 years. Last year it increased by 7.5 percent from the previous year to about 176 billion dollars(Tweed, 2019). It’s clear to see why the west is increasingly concerned about a resurgent Chinese military. Maybe they are afraid that China would try and get revenge for the century of humiliation. Or maybe they’re afraid that with a powerful military, China will kick the USA out of east and south Asia, become the regional hegemon, and start roaming around other parts of the world like the critical waterways of Gulf of Aden, the Mediterranean sea or even challenge USA in the Panama Canal and Latin America in general.
The fear by the west is somewhat justified but also stinks of paranoia. They think that since every other western power that has been a world hegemon has also been an empire, that China will try and do the same. They fear that China will try and subjugate weaker states and conquer them for their resources or strategic locations like when the British colonized over a quarter of the world population, or when the French occupied nearly half of Africa, or when the USA invaded and attacked Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, Iraq and Afghanistan and colonized them for their labor, markets or natural resources. What the west is forgetting is that China follows a Confucian culture, and even at the peak of their power a few hundred years ago, when they had the chance to invade and conquer, they didn’t. They just want to be secure and have all the intentions of keeping invaders out, and not conquer others. That is the reason why they built the great wall: for security, and not imperialism. The west on the other hand is a Christian, missionary, imperialistic culture which believes in their racial superiority, and think that they have the God given mandate to spread their religion and way of life to the ‘savages’ of the world, and if they scoop up resources along the way, then they’ll find ways to justify getting them by calling the exploitation ‘legal’ through laws that they come up with. So while a resurgent China, especially militarily should be of concern, the paranoia being experienced by the west right now might backfire. This paranoia has led to the USA forming a tight noose of military bases around China, and I would rather see some of them dismantled for the sake of peace and stability in a volatile part of the world.
When it comes to opportunities for the third world as regards the rise of China, Beijing as of now, seems to be the capital of choice when African countries seek loans, speedy completion of contracts, and non-interference of their domestic affairs. This has led to China now dwarfing the west in terms of doing business with Africa, and the west is waking up, albeit belatedly to this development(Wong, 2019). China has been building deep connections in Africa in the last 15 years, while the United states has been occupied with the so called ‘war on terror’. During this time, trillions of dollars have left the coffers of the US treasury, and trillions more will be needed to take care of hundreds of thousands of soldiers who sustained both physical and mental injuries. If that money was used by the US to compete with Beijing in terms of offering genuine development projects in Africa and Latin America, or even in propping up the likes of Manila and Ho Chin Minh city, then China would have not been as confident as they are today, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they become a peer competitor of the USA militarily, economically and even in terms of soft power appeal within the next three decades. So it’s Time for the west to wake up to this new reality. Just because they colonized Africa, and kept it down and under their thumb for so long, doesn’t mean that that will be the case forever, and Africa is increasingly looking eastwards, away from the parasitic west and their tools such as the IMF and the World bank.
The main threat that I see towards Africa, is the dumping of sub-standard goods by Chinese merchants hell bent on making a quick dollar. This has been aided by lowly paid corrupt heads of the quality assurance agencies of Africa. The other problem is the flooding of African countries with cheaper Chinese foods, killing local industries. A case in point is what is happening in Kenya where Chinese fish and eggs have flooded the market to the detriment of the local farmers. These problems are being fixed. A case in point is the Kenyan legislator Rigathi Gachagua who will introduce a bill to parliament to ensure that local industries are given first priority over foreign ones in terms of the smaller contracts.(Thomas, 2019) This was informed by the fact that Kenya is still a very poor country, and they know they still need the Chinese to do the larger contracts.
My main fear of a powerful China has been and still is the total overtaking of the South China sea. This has already began, whereby China is building artificial islands and arming them to the teeth, even with nuclear capable bombers, much to the furor of their smaller and weaker neighbors like Vietnam and the Philippines. I wouldn’t like to see the situation get out of hand and result in confrontation as it did when China sank a Vietnamese boat a few weeks ago as a show of force(Khan, 2019). Imagine if the Chinese tried to Sink an American vessel. That could trigger a bloody war akin to the aftermath of the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
China needs to create a security buffer between its coastline and the larger South China sea, and this is due to the painful lessons that it learnt during its weaker times when it was invaded by more powerful western countries during what China calls the ‘century of humiliation’. China has the majority of its industries, big cities and population concentrated in its south east coastline, it’s paramount to secure that part of the country by creating a security buffer zone. But this should neither be to the detriment of its neighbors, nor to the rights of other countries accessing international water ways. Therefore, China must find a way to balance its security needs with the rights of the international community.
China is rising, and it presents both opportunities and threats to different parts of the world, from cheaper loans to African countries and the flooding of their markets by cheap Chinese products, to the occasional bullying of the weaker South east Asian countries by Beijing, to the possibility that the USA might not be the hegemon of Asia very soon, even though hundreds of American companies have outsourced their factories to China. China presents both opportunities and threats to the world and now more than ever do we need skilled and respected diplomats to guide us through these turbulent times or else a major war could break out if one wrong move is made.
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