Wednesday, May 9, 2012

China's quiet expansionism

China seems to be making up for lost time since its introverted years as the 'Middle Kingdom' with its delusion of being the centre of mankind. Instead of being in control, Westerners came to conquer and plunder and even set up an 'International Settlement' for themselves which was out of bounds to the local Chinese!

'No Dogs or Chinese Allowed' in Shanghai which angered Bruce Lee in one of his famous films, 'Fist of Fury', was the ultimate humiliation.

Since Deng Xiaoping, China has opened up its economy and made extraordinary strides in achieving incredible growth, to become the world's second largest economy, after USA.

I can still remember their 'Ping Pong' diplomacy when China re-established diplomatic relations with Malaysia. Since then, China seems to believe that the best public relations is to help where there is a need. A couple of cliches come to mind: 'A hungry man is an angry man', feed him, but better still, make him self-sufficient; 'A bankrupt needs money', lend him, but better still, make him self-reliant; and so on. Gratitude that follows seem certain with this kind of soft approach. There was not much room for suspicions since there was no coercion nor conditions attached.

These are my comments after reading the following article...

Excerpts and graphics from Syed Akhbar Ali's Outside the Box "China encircles the Globe":

"So here was Wen Jiabao, the Vicegerent of Mao Tse Tung’s Communist Victory in 1949, coming to save ‘Mother of Western Democracy’ Greece from bankruptcy. The Chinese have given an undertaking to buy up any amount of Bonds that the Greek Government may issue to save themselves."

"As Western investors head for the hills, it turns out that China is turning the Greece crisis into an opportunity for expansion," said someone.

The Chinese want a gateway into Europe," Theodoros Pangalos, Greece's deputy prime minister, said in an interview. "They are not like these Wall Street [expletive] pushing financial investments on paper. The Chinese deal in real things, in merchandise. And they will help the real economy in Greece."

The Chinese have pledged to spend US$700 million to construct a new pier and upgrade existing docks. The ultimate goal for China, for which these Greek investments are a stepping stone, is "to create a network of roads, pipelines, railroads and port facilities--sort of a modern Silk Road--to boost East-West trade.

China is investing heavily in food production throughout Africa. Most certainly much of that output will find its way back to China but the Chinese are increasing food availability and food security in Africa. A nation’s food security depends on the irrigation networks, water supply infrastructure and productive farmland in operation in the country. The Chinese are increasing all these and more in Africa.

The Chinese are also building deep water ports in a place called Gwadar in Baluchistan (Pakistan), Chittagong in Bangladesh, Hambantotta in Sri Lanka and also a place called Kyaukpyu in Myanmar.

All these port developments will have significant positive impact on the immediate economies in these regions and eventually on the world economy. The port at Kyaukpyu is interesting because it is a bypass to the Straits of Malacca. The huge port investments there by the Chinese will see oil and other goods being unloaded and then shipped off to the Chinese interior.

Logically ports like Singapore may be threatened. It is interesting to note that although the Chinese financed and built the new port at Gwadar in Pakistan, they have deferred for the Port of Singapore Authority to operate Gwadar for the next 40 years.

In Sri Lanka China has become a partner of choice for the big Hambantota port project. China’s Export-Import Bank is financing 85 percent of the US$1 billion project (RM3.1 Billion). China Harbour Engineering, a state-owned company, is building it. Similar arrangements have been struck for an international airport nearby.
This is the new Silk Road. It would be very, very shortsighted if we in Malaysia do not become an active player in these developments involving China. And we are smack in the middle of the entire region...

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