Wake up call

Subhash V Thakrar Tuesday 15th June 2021 08:11 EDT

One cannot but admire that in just 30 years of reforms, China now commands the title of the 2nd biggest economy of the world after the US. Of course the political and economic model of China is quite different. Yet it seems to have worked to make it one of the fastest growing economies. All the actions that are being taken by the Chinese Communist Party(CCP), which is de facto the government of China, are with the clear objective of making China the biggest economy of the World and imprinting its philosophy and model on the rest of the world. This is estimated to happen in less than 10 years from now.


China sits on the world's largest foreign reserves amounting to $3.2 trillion. The US figure is $129bn! She commands the position of the manufacturer of the world. Every time we make a purchase of an item, most often it will be made in China. It's an export driven economy. Before the reforms began in 1978 the Chinese GDP was $149.5bn in comparison to the US at $2.3 trillion and Japan at just over $1trillion. In just over 30 years of reforms, the figures are $22.2 tn for the US, $15.4 tn for China and $5.5 tn for Japan. So China was 0.065 the size of the US in 1978 and now it is 0.69 the size of the US! This shows the momentum of Chinese growth and how quickly it is catching up with the US.


What is not so well known in the West is the increasing level of influence that China is having in our policies, education, culture etc. The influence is so silent that we just do not notice it's impact. I just finished reading an interesting book called Hidden Hand by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg which brings to our awareness how much influential infiltration has taken place and continues. The initiatives are wide ranging and most often look non harming.

One of the major initiatives is the Belt and Road Initiative to aggressively work with vulnerable economies to promote their infrastructure projects thereby increasing political and economic influence. Other ways are grooming prominent policy makers and political elites as Part of friendship groups like EU-China Friendship Group, Britain’s 48 Group Club around the world's top economies.China will also mobilise the Chinese diaspora by encouraging them to be part of United Front to follow and support Chinese cause and to also warn any dissidents by reminding them that they have family back in China.

In recent times, China has started to dominate the media sector by taking over companies and influencing the news. It has also started becoming powerful main sponsors under The China Arts Foundation for cultural events, working with western Universities to set up Confucius Institute with well trained teachers brought from China as well becoming major financial contributories by having large numbers of Chinese students at the Universities. China has influenced a number of think tanks and also set up their own to push forward their agenda. It has also become a major influencing force within the United Nations. For an ambitious country these are remarkable moves.


There needs to be a wake up call for the West to get to know and understand the soft power of China and address this with good knowledge. The Hidden Hand was an eye opener. 

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