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China: The Good, The Bad, And The Belt And Road Ugly

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 post-Afghanistan [ii].

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 Alderson (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].

However, 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 founding.

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:
  • It will lead to the unification of markets that could benefit both domestic and international realms.
  • 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 countries.

Criticism of the Initiative
The Belt and Road might sound advantageous on paper, but it has serious drawbacks:
  • 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 Russian dominance.
  • 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) [lviii]

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 Bible[lxi][lxii].

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 with superpowers.

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.

End Notes:
  1. James Early, The Rise and Future of China as an Economic Power, (Oct. 1, 2019),
  2. Anish Bachchan, The American Ragnarok In Afghanistan, (Sept. 23, 2021),
  3. United Nations Security Council, Wikipedia (Sept. 12, 2001),
  4. The post-Cold War world, (Oct. 2, 2020),
  5. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects,
  6. List of countries by GDP (nominal), Wikipedia (Nov. 27, 2003),
  7. Anish Bachchan, Are You Being Apolitical Because The Political Circus Doesnt Affect You?, Youth Ki Awaaz (Nov. 16, 2021),
  8. GeekSpeek, Rami Malek "Mr.Robot" Steve jobs reference. (diss), YouTube (June 19, 2015),
  9. The post-Cold War world, (Oct. 2, 2020),
  10. David Sulllivan, Whats behind Chinas video game restrictions?, World Economic Forum
  11. Jessie Yeung, The Hong Kong protests, explained, (Nov. 18, 2019),
  12. Anish Bachchan, Current Issues that Plagued the Video Game Industry, Medium (Jan. 6, 2021),
  13. Ryan Tate, What Everyone Is Too Polite to Say About Steve Jobs, Gawker (Oct. 7, 2011),
  14. Mychal Denzel Smith, Disney Is Not the Greatest Place on Earth to Work, The Nation (Mar. 12, 2020),
  15. Julia Carrie Wong, Tesla factory workers reveal pain, injury and stress: 'Everything feels like the future but us', The Guardian (May 18, 2017),
  16. Chris McLaughlin, Amazon's Jeff Bezos 'running sweatshop' while blowing billions on space trips, Mirror Online (July 3, 2021),
  17. Opinion | China, the Sweatshop (Published 2010), The New York Times (July 6, 2010),
  18. Author: Gethin Chamberlain, Disney factory faces probe into sweatshop suicide claims [China] - Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (Feb. 10, 2009),
  19. How Social Media Platforms made Right to Privacy into a relic of the past, (Feb. 1, 2022),
  20. Moon, TikTok Is Worse Than You Thought, YouTube (Oct. 31, 2021),
  21. India-China Conflictor IAS, Galwan Valley Clash. Detailed Analysis & Summary f (July 18, 2020),
  22. ChinaIndia relations, Wikipedia (Nov. 21, 2004),–India_relations.
  23. Japan and South Korea hold mixed views about China hosting the Beijing Olympics, The Japan Times (Feb. 14, 2022),
  24. Taiwan sees China's Xi as too focused on party reshuffle for any attack, Times of India (Feb. 17, 2022),
  25. David Axe, Chinas Artificial South China Sea Islands Have a Problem, The National Interest (May 16, 2021),'s-artificial-south-china-sea-islands-have-problem-185295.
  26. South China Sea Dispute: UPSC International Relations Notes, Countries Involved, Causes, Effects & Resolution [ (May 27, 2016),
  27. Jonah Shepp, What Is China Doing to the Uighurs in Xinjiang?, (Sept. 15, 2021),
  28. Manish Shukla, Explained: How China is brutally eradicating Uighur Muslims from Xinjiang, Zee News (Dec. 2, 2020),
  29. Forced Labour in Supply Chain of Fashion Brands,
  30. Cynical Reviews, MULAN - Disney's Despicable Disaster, YouTube (Mar. 5, 2021),
  31. 83 Companies Linked to Uighur Forced Labor, Save Uighur (Mar. 10, 2020),
  32. Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Wikipedia (Apr. 5, 2002),
  33. OIC condemns Israel settler attacks on Palestinians, (Dec. 24, 2021),
  34. Explained: What the OIC is and its statement on 'harassment' of Muslims in India, (Feb. 16, 2022),
  35. Please Wait..., Cloudflare
  36. OIC hypocrisy: The group is in no position to comment on Kashmir, (Nov. 30, 2020),
  37. Imran Khan accuses West of double standards on Kashmir, Uyghurs. Pakistanis not impressed, (Feb. 1, 2022),
  38. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG, Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),
  39. Edward Wong, U.S. Says Chinas Repression of Uighurs Is Genocide, The New York Times (Jan. 19, 2021),
  40. Belt and Road Initiative, Wikipedia (Mar. 29, 2015),
  41. One Belt One Road (OBOR), Blue Dot Network [UPSC International Relations] (Mar. 26, 2016),
  42. Kim Thelwell, Examining the Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan, The Borgen Project (Dec. 8, 2020),
  43. ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor, Wikipedia (Mar. 3, 2014),–Pakistan_Economic_Corridor.
  44. Chinese salami slicing strategy, Wikipedia (Nov. 7, 2020),
  45. David Sacks, The China-Pakistan Economic CorridorHard Reality Greets BRIs Signature Initiative, Council on Foreign Relations (Mar. 30, 2021),
  46. Debt-trap diplomacy, Wikipedia (Sept. 15, 2018),
  47. Debt Trap: What is Meant by Debt Trap? |, Angel One
  48. Huang Lanlan, Rumors behind China debt trap: How Western and Indian conspiracists smear China-Sri Lanka cooperation, Global Times (Feb. 6, 2022),
  49. Sri Lanka: A country trapped in debt, BBC News (May 25, 2017),
  50. Ani |, Sri Lanka struggles to repay loans, China's 'debt trap' for developing countries, (Feb. 17, 2005),
  51. Hermes Auto, Fearing debt trap, Pakistan rethinks China's Belt and Road projects, The Straits Times (Sept. 30, 2018),
  52. Access denied, used Cloudflare to restrict access\.
  53. Kirsty Needham, Data doesn't support Belt and Road debt trap claims, (May 2, 2019),
  54. Debt Trap Diplomacy And China's Belt And Road Initiative: Should We Be Concerned?, Reusable Packaging News (Nov. 29, 2021),
  55. How the International Monetary Funds loan conditionality is hurting developing countries, Development in Action (Jan. 14, 2021),
  56. Huang Lanlan, Rumors behind China debt trap: How Western and Indian conspiracists smear China-Sri Lanka cooperation, Global Times (Feb. 6, 2022),
  57. Pradumna Bickram Rana, BRIs Debt Trap Diplomacy: Reality or Myth?, RSIS (July 11, 2020),
  58. Anish Bachchan, Metal Gear Solid: Learning Lessons Of War From Video Games, Youth Ki Awaaz (Mar. 30, 2021),
  59. Professor Nick Bisley, Whats Chinas relationship with North Korea really like?, Nest (Sept. 22, 2017),
  60. Poverty in North Korea, Wikipedia (May 16, 2013),
  61. Capital punishment in North Korea, Wikipedia (Apr. 29, 2009),
  62. LEMMiNO, Top 10 Facts - Porn, YouTube (Jan. 4, 2014),
  64. Deku, The saddening reality of the Graveyard of the Empires: Vietnam 2.0, (Sept. 8, 2021),

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