The patience of the democratic nations is running out when it comes to China. Even as the major industrial countries, particularly America, sought profits from manufacturing in China by taking advantage of cheap and obedient labour, the process was encouraged by governments in the expectation that a healthy dose of capitalism would lead to the democratisation of that country. Somehow, China turned out to be Frankenstein’s monster, instead. While the multinationals made the profits, China’s leadership got into the game, without making any ideological concessions whatsoever. As the people’s standard of living improved, the local market became another lure for the corporations to invest in and sell further.
Now, China is behaving much like the nouveau riche, throwing money at everything to get its way. It promises large investments, which cash strapped and badly run countries are happy to accept to get out of the holes they have dug for themselves. It is only later that they discover they are in an even bigger hole, with even their basic sovereignty threatened, but it is almost too late by then. Pakistan is a prime example of this but not the only one. The latest to succumb to Chinese bribery is Iran. It has handed over the Chahbahar railway project (which India was expected to get) to the Chinese against the promise of a 400 billion dollar investment package over the next 25 years. Crippled by US sanctions, Iran has grasped at the straw, but will eventually pay a heavy price for it.
This indicates, once again, that there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests. There are many countries smarting from the overbearing Chinese attitude and business tactics. Theft of technology and coercion are par for the course wherever China begins to do business, whether it small nations like New Zealand or Vietnam, or the US and the European Union. Donald Trump has been trying to reverse the tide by trying to pull industries back home, but many feel it has been too little, too late, and not cleverly enough done. It has reached a point where even the security of the democratic world is under threat, whether it is military aggression such as in Galwan Valley or the South Pacific, or the data thieves like Huawei 5G Technology. The developed nations are finally waking up and taking steps to counter these imperialistic designs. Britain has decided to be rid of Huawei by 2027, while others will ensure it doesn’t make an entry in the first place. This will lead to a global realignment – the democracies versus China and its proxies. Sadly, this will represent a missed opportunity, particularly in the case of compatible economies like those of India and China. However, the blame is entirely China’s for being too smart for its own good.