MD Talebur Islam Rupom talks about how China is strengthening their modern imperialism through policies even during the time of COVID-19
CHINA is implementing imperialism with its aggressive and long term economic and foreign policies. Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the mega transformations for one of the top powerful countries in terms of weapons, defense and manufacturing defense equipment. Simultaneously, this single party state is also making sure to keep its grip strong on Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau who are the notable economic and international hub and a gateway between China and the rest of the world who also seek sovereignty.
COVID-19 outbreak has been helping China in many ways to execute the semi-internal triggering issues alongside some other issues such as the Uighur’s religious minorities. Besides, China has becoming the showstopper in Africa, Latin America, Asia including South Asian region through its mighty investments, zigzag economic and foreign policies. Additionally, novel corona virus is undeniably a curse for everyone but it is bringing profits to the Chinese economy and strong political influence globally.
Recently, China has approved 97 per cent tax free products for Bangladesh while they got involved in a military clash in Ladakh, India. This article will discuss the dimensions of various Chinese policies and influence by what they are aiming to establish a modern empire.
The Chinese Communist Party led legislature has taken the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity and passed the long awaited but the controversial national security bill to intimidate Hong Kong and also paving the way for money to flow into the city. The people of Hongkong were protesting on the street since last year after it was proposed in the congress of China, until the transmittable virus has turned into a havoc. As the people were bound to stay at home due to the risk of spreading COVID-19, the Chinese government passed the bill and allowed themselves sweeping power over the home of 7.5 million habitants. That was too held on the handover day of Hongkong on 30th June when the British handed it back to China in 1997 on the principle of ‘one country, two policies’.
Hong Kong’s security law has laid down the new ‘normal’ for the city. Free speech is now limited, extradition to the mainland is legal and support for Hong Kong’s freedom anywhere in the world is a criminal offence. The bill could result in far more serious charges being laid against protesters should they engage in activities that were common during the recent upheaval.
Vandalising public transport could now be treated as terrorism. Breaking into the legislature or throwing eggs at the central government’s liaison office, as demonstrators did last year, could be considered subversive. Calling for Hong Kong’s independence, as some protesters have, could invoke a charge of secession. Encouraging foreign countries to impose sanctions on China could result in prosecution for collusion.
The maximum sentence for all four of these categories of crime is life in prison. However, Hongkong has been renowned as a critique of mainland China, a hub of intellectualism and finance and the gateway between China and the West.
Like Hongkong the sovereignty and freedom of Taiwan is also at threat. Taiwan, a non-registered country in the United Nation due to the extreme influence of mainland China, are in trouble. The Taiwanese people, its local authority and experts thinks it is a blueprint of limit the freedom of Taiwan, one of the densely populated but one of the largest economic countries in the world.
Besides, the Hong Kong bill also help the mainland China to take full control over Macau, the largest gambling and gaming hub with the highest revenue, three times more than Las Vegas. The world’s wealthiest city under Chinese administration has around 650,000 people where Macau’s per capita is USD 143,000 per person the highest in the world ahead of Qatar and Luxemburg, according to the IMF. Once the restriction is imposed to Hong Kong, these UN unrecognised countries are at risk to see the limitation of their freedom and the control on their overwhelming economy.
Perhaps, COVID-19 is also concealing the human rights of the Uighur minorities. A new report in Foreign Policy says that China's suppression of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other chiefly Muslim ethnic minorities in northwest China now meets the United Nations definition of genocide, mass sterilisation, forced abortions and mandatory birth control part of a campaign that has affected more than 1.5 million people, and considered the largest probable incarceration of an ethnoreligious minority since the Holocaust.
On the other hand, a BBC investigation found that China was separating children from their families so they grew up without understanding Islam. The global community including Muslim majority countries are not able to raise their voice sharply because all those countries are either under the debt of China or have mega investments.
Exploring to the foreign policies and investments of China, Belt and Road Initiative, also known as Silk Road is one of the prime projects to implement the Chinese imperialism across the world. Back in 2013, the Communist administration laid out a policy that promised real reforms to an economy laden with debt and distorted by the influence of the country's large state-owned enterprise (SOE) sector. But instead of seeing that agenda through, China chose to dodge the risks entailed in pursuing a market economy, and has since reverted to what it knows best: state control over the economy and the semblance of stability that comes with it.
This is how one of the sea port of Sri Lanka has been forced to lease to China for next 100 years due to the debt of USD 1.5 billion. 93 per cent of Sri Lanka’s total GDP are debt. Kenya has also lost a port in this way to China Since China’s economy vastly depends on industries, hence they are expanding their market as much as they can by providing loans and other sort of investments but undoubtedly with complex conditions, unlike the principles of the USA whose main business is war and selling arms.
But the debt and investment strategies of China are as anti-sovereignty as the USA’s weapon business. Alongside, this will allow China country to use the natural resources and influence politically both inside and outside of the associated countries.
The conditions of the loan are consisted with allotting the Chinese construction companies to lead the project, to import the equipment infrastructures from China, letting the chief consultants to the labourers from China and so on. It means once someone borrows money from China, that borrowed money will get back to China again through sharing the intellectual properties, equipment, construction companies, even by the wage of the Chinese consultants and labourers. On contrast, loaning from China does not require any strong ethics and accountabilities from the side of another country such as maintaining democracy, human rights, non-militarised government like it usually needs to borrow money from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Apparently, World Bank and IMF or other institutions have some sort of ethical standards such as democracy and human rights of the countries to pass or keep the loan flow. Military controlled countries are not qualified to get such loans. So, countries led by the dictators such as Belarus, Montenegro, Central Asian, many African and a few European countries are generally happened to be the allies with China. This is the way China is taking the full advantage of using the enriched natural resources as well as provoke corruption in countries such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan. All these countries are led by the dictators or militarised government.
In fact, Turkmenistan possesses the world’s fourth largest reserves of natural gas. The Communist state has been building China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway connection. Although Uzbekistan has already a Eurasia corridor through Kazakhstan to Russian and Europe but Tashkent prefers to trust Beijing.
It takes money to make money. By following this strategy, China first invests money through giving loans to the other countries for building their infrastructures. Then it will be easier to deal with the natural resources. The Chinese government knows well that there are multiple countries which may never pay back their debt. Henceforth, they keep less interest while loaning or less hope to return the money but put such conditions in order to influence the governments.
According to the report of Center for Global Development, these countries: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Djibouti, Laos, Montenegro are in the list of high debt risk who might never pay back their loan to Beijing. Initially, the Chinese administration shows the win-win situation for the allied countries. For example, after getting investment from Beijing, Pakistan saw the highest GDP rate in 2010s but more than 75 per cent of the total GDP was debt.
Recent tensions in South Asia have occurred for these reasons. India-China boarder conflict in Ladakh recently has been pointing out the weakness of the region whereas India is paying the price of neglecting its neighbors. The biggest South Asian state also got involved with board conflict with Nepal for what Kathmandu passed a new bill. They were nearly facing a war with Pakistan in 2019 and then they suspended each other’s High Commission from their countries. The relationship between Dhaka and New Delhi is not sweet presently. So, India has a little better understanding with Bhutan now in the entire South Asian region but Bhutan too have refused to share river water with them.
On the other hand, Beijing is taking the maximum profit out of it and executing the projects and investments. Weeks ago, China offered Bangladesh tariff exemption for 97 per cent of exports from Dhaka amid tensions with India. Apart from this, there are a plenty of mega projects from China going on in Bangladesh. Dhaka also avails the opportunity to stay away from the shadow of New Delhi as the people of Bangladesh have not been receiving as per promises.
Bangladesh is in a win-win situation now and the policymakers must utilise this opportunity wisely, and neither should let Beijing to play with debt game nor provide them stimulus package which given since the official visit of PM Xi Jinping years ago. We have given to China more than they deserve despite the fact, they were one of the nations who recognised Bangladesh late, and historically closed ally of Pakistan. Dhaka should be careful before making any mega deal with Beijing.
It should be discussed but in other time in another article how Africa is becoming China’s new China because of the mass investments, extreme influence in their governments like the colonialism of Europe at the continent. Whereas, China is also keeping the expansion in Latin America. Their role in Southeast Asia and East Asia is also interesting and crucial.
Belt and Road Initiative will be the most significant part and could be future of super economy as well as their strong defense and weapon manufacturer. Manifestly, China is on the track to establish a modern empire by executing their economic, foreign affairs and national strategies.
MD Talebur Islam Rupom is a contributor with the New Age Youth.
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