Opinion

Chinese Imperialism : OBOR (One Belt One Road) – An economic mouse trap !

There is a much hype about Chinese $124 billion One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or fancied as ” New Silk Road” for the economic growth and world trade. The project envisages building roads, ports, airports and railways in the participating countries. Even in India’s neighbourhood there is a much talk about CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), which will join, Gwador on the Persian Gulf in Baluchistan Province of Pakistan to Kashghar in Xinjiang province of China, over a distance of 3000 KMs. Rail- road and port project is seen as a game changer in Pakistan. How far there is a truth in it.

At the outset, let me quote Professor Mohan Malik of US based Asia Pacific Centre for Security Studies. He recently told a Times Of India correspondent that Chinese officials, in jest, talked of buying off smaller countries instead of invading them. He elaborates further that China was in an “empire-building” mode. According to him, “It (China) is trying to build an empire of exclusive economic enclaves that would create a Sino-centric unipolar Asia. This is China’s ‘imperial overreach’ at a time of economic slowdown.” This is the truth. It is an economic “Mouse Trap” for smaller countries on the Asian map.

China has been the manufacturing hub of the world over the last few decades due to low cost of production, facilitated by her low cost of labour. It could thus produce cheap goods of quality. Most of the manufacturing giants, thus, shifted their base to china to make her a preferred place. China thus became manufacturing hub. This allowed China to market its goods world over competitively and be flushed with surplus funds. Even USA owes China an external debit of $ 1.059 trillion, today.

China thus used its manpower strength for controlled wages of labour to enhance its foreign earnings. Surplus funds have their own problems , if not put to proper usage. Surplus funds also led to upgradation of technologies and automation of jobs. This is also called digitalisation. However, with digitalisation and higher technologies, though the cost of production remained low but the quality of product decisively improved. As a result of automation jobs market in China has shrunk . What was earlier being done by 10 men, automation ensures that the same job be done by 2-3 men with better quality. Therefore, digitalisation reduced the work force by 60-70%, which lay unemployed, though qualified. This has not only released the workers from their jobs but also curtailed fresh recruitment in the market. Thus, unemployment in China is increasing at breathneck speed. This would have serious problems because it has a potential for not only social tension but also political dissensions, thereby endangering national security.

Excessive funds and rising unemployment are the future trouble makers for China. Despite being a communist country, gap between rich and poor in China was fast increasing. China has, today, more billionaires than USA. It might fuel democratic and freedom movements. Rising standards of life also light the spark for more freedom and liberty. These aspirations will further boost crisis in UIGHAR Muslim movement in Xinjiang Province; Tibetan aspirations in TAR (Tibet Autonomous Region) and resentment against Han ethnicity in Outer Mangolia autonomous region. OBOR of China, you would see, is to overcome the problem of excessive funds and rising unemployment in China. Hence, in the name of economic growth and development of regions and countries, China would use these funds to transfer its low tech workers to these regions and opens the space in the job markets for fresh recruitment. It is a win win situation for China. It is thus killing two words with one stone. It is to be noted that funds invested by China in all these countries are not financial assistance but loans which these countries will not be able to refund.

What must be recognised is that besides building roads, ports, airports and rail infrastructure, there would be a need for auxiliary industries, which would be controlled, staffed and operated by Chinese management and workers. Goods produced would be consumed in the home markets. Thus, where is the earning of foreign money for the affected countries? If there is no export how would they refund the loans taken from China? Today, Sri Lanka finds herself in a tight spot to refund $8 Billions spent on construction of Hambantota port. Same is case of Maladives who owes 70% external debit to China. Story repeats itself in almost all small countries in Africa. Thus China has virtually colonised these countries.

Now come nearer home to Pakistan— a much hyped CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) at the cost of $ 46-55 billion is masking the real devil. As revealed by The Dawn Daily of Pakistan on 14 May 2017, thousands of acres of Pakistani agricultural land will be purchased by China to set up Trial agricultural farms to produce agro products. The news paper assets that the plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises. Thus it would virtually control all walks of life in Pakistan.

It seems, Pakistan has sold the future of her unborn generations to China. Once in, China will never go out because Pakistan won’t be able to repay the loan which amount to almost $100 billion in next 30 years. Generations of Chinese workers would have settled all over Pakistan in the next 30 years. There would be a massive demographical shift. It is replica of Hitler’s philosophy of “LEBENSARUM” (Living Space) outside Chinese borders. Dream land of Subcontinental Muslims would thus become a Chinese outpost. CPEC is nothing but loss of sovereignty by Pakistan. All this because of her emotionally blinded Generals and politicians seeking revenge from “Hindu India”.

Therefore, those who are thinking of OBOR as a game changer in the world economy are fooling themselves. It is actually a Chinese attempt at Global colonisation. The rise of Chinese empire is on the cards. How far it will succeed is a different matter. It will give rise to resistance movements in the affected regions. It might backfire on China. India, therefore, rightly refrained from attending BRF (Belt and road Forum ) Summit in Beijing on 12/14 May 2017. CPEC not only violates Kashmir sovereignty but also a clever attempt to “intoxicate nations with money” and thus lose sight of biting fangs of Chinese imperialism. It is definitely an economic “mouse trap”.

See the CPEC Project—- it is divided into two disciplines, I.e. One Roads, Rail and port project for $11 Billion ( 25%) ; two, 24 Power projects at a cost of $ 35 billion (75%), FDI by Chinese companies with a commitment for 100% buy back. This is the trap. Rail road infrastructure will have auxiliary industry such as tourism spots, hotels, spa, recreation and security— all by Chinese workers. Pakistan will get revenue for movement of goods by China or repair and recovery facilities. This is the trap which Pakistan does not see.

Rajee Kushwaha

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