Introduction: The Rise of China [i]
History is not kind with superpowers. The British and the French saw their
empires falling apart, despite being one of the victors of the Second World War.
It wasn't kind to the Soviets when they collapsed in 1991. The same pattern
repeats with the Americans when their status as a superpower is on the line
These are the countries that were once the victors of the Second World War. They
also hold permanent member seats in the UN Security Council. At the same time,
there's another country that wants to become a dominant power on the world
stage. It also shares the seat as a permanent member in the UN Security, and it
also shared its victory with the other four powers post World War Two. That
country is China [iii].
Following the bloody Civil War, Mao Zedong's Communist Party reigned over the
entire country. Despite achieving victory against Komingtang, Mao's policies in
reforming China were a hit and miss. Those policies caused the deaths of
millions of people, and China became a Stalinist state.
Despite the Sino-Soviet split and their successful nuclear test in 1964, China's
economy wasn't strong, unlike the four powers. That was until 1979 when Deng
Xiaoping liberalized the economy.
When Communism fell in Europe in the late 1980s, the Soviets saw their demise in
1991[iv]. It made the US the sole Superpower, ending the bipolar era. However,
the post-Cold War world saw the return of a multi-polar world with countries
like Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, and China boosting their economies.
According to an article by Wikipedia, China is the second-largest global
economy, falling behind the United States. The said countries in this paragraph
are also among the largest economies (in nominal GDP) [v][vi].
The Controversies that made China infamous [vii]
"Oh I don't know. Is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man,
even though we knew he made billions on the back of children?"-Elliot
(Mr Robot) [viii]
Despite being a strong economy, China is not without its fair share of red
flags. For starters, it still retains its one-party state, which means it still
controls every walks of life. Censorship is probably the Chinese government's
favorite tool to suppress free speech and protests[ix]. The government recently
restricted the video game duration to three hours per week because they
considered it "opium."[x] The forceful incorporation of Chinese draconian laws
in an otherwise democratic Hong Kong led to a massive protest [xi].
When Blizzard banned Blitzchung, a Hearthstone player, for speaking in favor of
the Hong Kong Protests, it saw the wrath of gamers and the US Congress. The
detractors believe that the ban occurred so that Blizzard could save face in
front of Beijing. ACThe controversy highlights a stark contrast to their beliefs
of democracy Blizzard expressed during the George Floyd Protests. [xii]
It isn't the only time American countries are in bed with an authoritarian
regime. The sweatshop operations in China blurs any line of morality. Elites
like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bob Iger, and even Steve Jobs have made fortunes
from sweatshop operations[xiii][xiv][xv][xvi]. Some of the workers who make the
equipment like Iphones are children.
The abysmal conditions of workers are evident in foreign news outlets like The
New York Times[xvii]. Yet American companies could care less about the appalling
work conditions, low wages, and lack of independent trade unions. Ironically,
companies like Disney use children to make their toys, thus earning millions of
their backs while ignoring their plight [xviii].
Tik Tok, a Chinese App, has become a dominant social media giant. Its influence
has challenged the Silicon Valley oligarchs like Metaverse, Twitter, and YouTube
(All three are banned in China). At the same time, many detractors find Tik Tok
to be a haven for child predators. Furthermore, other than cringe content, Tik
Tok has been collecting data and then selling it to the upper echelons of the
Beijing government [xix].
The US Pentagon banned the use of Tik Tok in their office, whereas India banned
the app over the entire country alongside more than 200 apps. New Delhi was
afraid that India's sovereignty would be in jeopardy[xx]. It is also an
immediate move following the infamous clash of Indian and Chinese soldiers in
June 2020, which almost brought two countries to the state of war [xxi].
Speaking of India, India and China are already in bad blood because of the 1962
war, the Aksai Chin, and Arunachal Pradesh Dispute. The reason why India has a
diplomatic relation is because of economic means. India isn't the only country
China has a bone to pick [xxii].
China's growing power worries Japan and South Korea. They're afraid that it
affects their security[xxiii]. The Taiwanese government is scared that shortly,
China will invade and take over their country[xxiv]. China's attempt to build
artificial islands and claims of the South China Sea angered Malaysia, Vietnam,
The Philippines, and Brunei[xxv][xxvi].
Uighurs and the Hypocrisy of MNCs and OIC [xxvii]
The cherry-picking in the controversy cake is the subjugation of the Uighur
Muslims. Many human rights groups accuse China of detaining the Uighur Muslim
population in their "re-education camps." The critics further added that these
camps are akin to the Concentration Camps.
There are about two million Uighur Muslims trapped in the Chinese Concentration
Camps. The government coerces them to learn Mandarin and renounce Islam while
making them pledge to the Communist Party. They claim that they are battling
Islamic Extremism while trying to hide the atrocities from the world [xxviii].
The worst thing is American companies willingly let this slide to get their
slice of the Communist Pie. Critics criticized Tesla's move to open its showroom
in the Xinjiang region[xxix]. People loathed Disney for setting up the Mulan
Remake film sets near the Uighur Concentration Camps[xxx]. Forced labor
normalized in the Xinjiang region happened thanks to the 83 companies [xxxi].
Other than the MNCs, there's the OIC. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation
(or OIC in short) is an organization that seeks after and protects the interests
of the Islamic World[xxxii]. They will be the first to jump the gun if there is
an escalation of conflicts in Palestine[xxxiii] and Kashmir[xxxiv].
they will ignore the plight of the Uighur Muslims[xxxv][xxxvi]. The primary
reason for this is their members (Pakistan[xxxvii], Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc.)
have cordial relations with China. They are even part of the latter's Belt and
Road Initiative[xxxviii]. The US Government considers the atrocities against
Uighurs as genocide highlighting how morally bankrupt OIC and MNCs are[xxxix].
The Belt and Road Initiative [xl][xli][xlii]
China's new arsenal, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is the most ambitious
yet controversial plan. The plan first came into fruition in 2013 by the Chinese
leader Xi Xingping. China wants to lead on the world stage. Thus it aims to
invest the countries and international organizations financially. Then the
Chinese Constitution incorporated the said strategy in 2017. Their deadline to
complete the plans is 2049. The said year is the centennial of the CCP's
As of this writing, around 70 countries have joined China's effort. The
Wikipedia article explains the etymology of the Belt and Road Initiative. The
Belt is a representation of the Silk Road Economic Belt. They intend to
construct transportation (road and rail) connecting Asia and Europe. It is a
euphemism for the Silk Road, which existed throughout antiquity. The road refers
to the Maritime Silk Road expanding the Indo-Pacific Sea Routes. The destination
of the said route will take from the Chinese coasts to Central Europe.
China has various objectives in the BRI. A few of them are:
Criticism of the Initiative
The Belt and Road might sound advantageous on paper, but it has serious
- It will lead to the unification of markets that could benefit both domestic and
- The integral part of the initiative is the integration and exchange of opposite
cultures. For example, Turkey can share its culture with China. China might have
Turkish cuisine. Turkey can have a Chinese counterpart.
- Lastly, the initiative will bring more trust and understanding amongst the
- Many countries consider the BRI a dodgy move, with the United
States, Japan, and Australia starting their counter initiatives
- India finds the BRI suspicious as the "China-Pakistan Economic Corridor" might
violate its sovereignty. Even the Pakistani people have concerns regarding the
plan, with the Baloch people openly opposing it. The locals in Gwadar city fear
eviction from their homes[xliii].
- Russia sees Central Asia as its sphere of influence. Since the Central Asian
countries are the signatories of the BRI, it could potentially jeopardize
- Many countries consider BRI as a part of the rising Chinese Imperialism. The
term used for BRI is the Salami Slicing Strategy[xliv]. It means that China uses
provocation in which the result will fall in its favor.
Debt Trap Strategy[xlv][xlvi]
The deepest part of the iceberg is the Debt Trap situation. In layman's terms, a
debt trap is a strategy where a person in debt takes newfangled loans from a
third party. The aim of taking loans is to repay the old debt. However, it is
just a definition on paper. In reality, the debt a person owes might get into an
Uzumaki (spiral) of bad news. The person would then be unable to pay the debt
because their repayment capacity gets exhausted[xlvii].
Western and Indian outlets criticize the BRI for its leech-sucking debt traps.
The BRI might seem to build infrastructure (roads, bridges, skyscrapers, ports,
airports, etc.) for the countries. In reality, it uses debt traps to make
nations more dependent on China (thus increasing their influence)[xlviii].
In the case of countries, the lending nation gives loans to the debtor nation.
The lending nation increases the extensive credit, which gets the debtor nation
in a debt trap. The former will ask the debtor nation for political and economic
compromise to repay their debts.
Sri Lanka is a prime example of a debt trap situation. After getting billions
($5 billion) of dollars from China, Sri Lanka aimed to build its infrastructure
and further its developmental plans. A Chinese company even constructed a port
named Hanbantota through Chinese money.
However, Sri Lanka was unable to repay its debts. So it gave a stake of the port
to the Chinese company to repay its debt. Many people believe that the Chinese
Company is encroaching Sri Lanka's sovereignty.[xlix] By 2022, Sri Lanka had to
pay 4.5 billion dollars to China. As of November 2021, the country's inflation
has reached 11.1 percent, and food inflation reached 16.9 percent. The local
currency suffered to 7.5 percent against the US dollar. The loans were the
reason why the prices went high[l].
Pakistan might also face the same dilemma. Beijing loaned the country $60
billion in hopes of improving its infrastructure. Islamabad, however, started to
have second thoughts because their dependence on Chinese loans might make their
already weaker economy untenable[li]. As of 2021, the country's consumer price
index increased to 11.53 percent. The food inflation of the country has
skyrocketed to 10.47 percent[lii].
Arguments of Rebuttal [liii][liv][lv][lvi][lvii]
A professor from John Hopkins University named Deborah Brautigam rejected the
idea of the debt trap. According to her, the parties that support the debt trap
lack concrete evidence. The critics of the debt trap strategy also argued that
China knows that Sri Lanka will fall into debt.
It also knows that Columbo will do everything to control it eventually. Former
Sri Lankan President (Now Prime Minister) Mahinda Rajapaksa was the one who
proposed the idea of taking Chinese loans. Many detractors criticize his
administration for corruption.
It is worth noting that IMF and World Bank also use a debt trapping strategy.
The critics accused the organizations of upping poverty through pressures of
privatization. One report states that IMF coerces its members to cut healthcare
spending. According to the report, it could affect the fight against Covid 19.
The Trinidad and Tobago government are willing to take loans from China rather
than the IMF.
During Covid 19, China is aiding the debt-ridden countries via forgiving
policies. Partial debt reliefs and postponing loans from countries like Tonga
give the potential for China to become the poster boy of the fight against Covid
19. To add more, many critics view debt traps as Western and Indian conspiracies
to undermine China.
"Each nation's arrogance breeds only anarchy"
- Revolver Ocelot (Metal Gear Solid)
China is the wealthier version of North Korea[lix]. The economy spectacularly
rose, and now it could challenge the United States and the West. On the other
hand, the Kim Dynasty's Hermit Kingdom undergoes extreme poverty[lx]. However,
they are pretty similar in:
- A one-party state system
- Suppressing free speech and human rights, and
- Concentration camps. North Korea takes it to an extra mile because of countless
execution over trivial means like obtaining pornographic material or a
The BRI and the debt trap strategy might be debatable, but it does not excuse
China's human rights abuses and mass censorship. Its social credit system is a
piece of surveillance equipment disguised as a social rating system. They even
censored the Tianneman Square protest and massacre to preserve their image.
It is past time for people to recognize that China's policies are dubious. Just
because the West constantly demonizes China does not imply that the latter is an
angel. People should be aware that China's attempt to counter American supremacy
is suspiciously viewed. Although the rest of the world was experiencing an
economic downturn during the pandemic, China somehow recovered. People should be
aware that China was the pandemic's epicenter[lxiii].
People and world leaders should hold China accountable for its abuse of Uighurs
and Sweatshop workers. American companies need to stop pushing social justice
messages to an average Joe's throat if they want to continue working with
Beijing. The OIC must not ignore the plight of the Uighurs while speaking for
Kashmiris and Palestinians at the same time. They must live up to their name and
support all Muslims.
China's future is unknown. It is also unknown whether the post-Covid world will
change the world stage as we know it. It is unlikely whether we got rid of this
pandemic entirely. However, one thing is permanent: History is not kind, even
The Soviet, British, and French Empires are extinct. They now only exist in
history and political science books. The debacle in Afghanistan proves that
America has not learned its lesson from Vietnam. It might catalyze the American
Ragnarok[lxiv]. China's tables might turn for the worst. Only time will tell
whether it happens at this point.
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