It is amazing how far the Chinese have come, and it is scary to imagine how far they are willing and able to go. In the early 70s, when Maoism was the doctrine and vision in China, America was quick to label such ambitions as “The Soft Yellow Threat, very Shakespearian in nature; full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” How wrong the United States was then and is now. China over the last 30 something years has experienced a renaissance economically and socially that rivals any such outburst in the history of nations. GDP has never been higher, per capita income is on the rise, exports are sky rocketing, and the Chinese brand and market has never had better credibility. To give China’s rise a sense of context, the number of billionaires in China has gone quadrupled fold in the last decade. This statistic encapsulates the contemporary China success story in the 21st century.
Examples abound; in today’s corporate landscape, being present in China is a corporate sine qua non for most Fortune 500 companies. These days, a study of the Chinese model of comparative business strategy is a must in any Business School worthy of its name. In today’s nonstop business cycle, an association with China be it in project finance, venture capital deals, outsourcing of resources is seen as instant credibility! Today’s China has given out more loans to receiving countries than the World Bank in 2010. Nice! America essentially financed its so called “war on terror” in Afghanistan and Iraq on selling U.S. Treasury Bonds to China. As this article is being typed out, the State Department and Department of Treasury in the United States are meeting with a high powered delegation from China in Washington, D.C. to negotiate “terms of trade” to offset the huge US/China trade deficit. The question that begs an answer is; is this the same China the United States characterized as “The Yellow Threat…signifying nothing” some 40 years back? I think not. How times have changed. And ROLES, too.
Today, most goods around the world, in part or in whole, have passed through China. The relevance of the Chinese economy, its growing residual income and her buying or purchasing power is clearly shaping the future and order of global business and strategy as we know it. Today’s China is bold, confident, assertive, resolute about its objectives, and has a clear vision of where the country sits from an economic, military, geopolitical and social standpoint. From the horn of Africa, to the Asian panhandle, from North America to Europe and the Middle East, China’s presence can be felt, it has impact beyond borders and its foot prints is shaping and will define the landscape of tomorrow’s world in commerce and industry.
But how should the Chinese handle this “power”? With power comes responsibility; a huge one. Will China be the “globocop” who shrugs everybody to get what she wants at any cost? (21st century Sino – Asian Pacific Hegemony). I don’t think so, though the latter description is a characterization of another world power. Your guess is as good as mine. Will China be the global leader who will hand out economic grants and loans with “no strings” attached as to how a receiving country should use the funds, or question a receiver country’s corporate or public governance? If the Chinese policy in giving grants to African countries is any indication as to the last question, there is nothing to worry about, for China doesn’t meddle in the sovereign affairs of a receiving country in giving loans or grants. Will China be that global leader who shall always side with Russia and North Korea just to “stick it” to the Americans, and not base her foreign relations with the West on any aforethought or policy considerations as it seems to be the case thus far? Will the China of today be so obsessed with obtaining natural resources around the world that she will stop at nothing to get them, and in doing so not share technology transfer with the host countries? Is China ultimately a friend or foe to most countries it seeks to open relationships with for economic reasons?
How will a renewed partnership with China be moving forward? What will be the face and attitude of the “NEW and BOLD CHINA?” These are some of the fundamental questions we as policy analysts and macro economic and political economy pundits should be asking in the wake of the China –Africa Forum 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Rightly or wrongly, China is clearly the future of global business. How African countries seize opportunities with this impending global dominant power will shape the future of the African horn moving forward. History is watching and shall judge us by our actions, not words.
Mr Ananga is a Senior Corporate Counsel at C.S.P.H (The Hydrocarbons Prices Stabilization Fund). He is Vice President at CACLiTA.