By Kanbawza Win
The civilized world is now faced with the economic imperialism under the grandiose name One Belt One Road 一带一路 (Yīdài yīlù) scheme, to authenticate the age old theory, that China is the centre of the civilized world (文明世界的中心) while the rest of the world are just a little better than barbarians, as according to the age old Chinese philosophy.
The Union of Burma, an immediate neighbour, founded 72 years ago by our beloved leader Aung San is now in the doldrums, as the Myanmarnization programme implemented by the Myanmar Tatmadaw has now met its match with the Sinonization of an economic imperialism (中国帝国主义与经济帝国主义) of the big neighbour. The non-Myanmar ethnic nationalities are caught between the devil and the deep sea. But one common denominator for both the Myanmar and the Chinese is that they sincerely believes in the dictum of Chairman Máoxīdōng, that “Power comes out of the barrel of the Gun,” and currently the Chinese has the biggest guns in the world.
The Free World knows very well of “All that glitters is not Gold” in the person of President Trump who had measured everything with the economic barometer obtaining his goal of America First in COVID fatalities, that he earned the hatred of not only the Western Civilization but also shattered the inspiration of the freedom loving people of the Third World countries, who in the heart of hearts had construed that America is the Arsenal of Democracy and Freedom.
Currently, the Chinese economic growth has fuel global development and firmly integrated in the international order, however today it seems that it is headed for personal dictatorship and totalitarian control e.g. Presidential XI’s term limits has gone, Western democratic values are vilified, censorship is intensified, surveillance is expanded, political education is revived and controls over private companies have multiplied. Xinjiang suffers under nightmarish repression is everybody’s knowledge. No longer satisfied with oppressing its own people, it is extending its control over Hong Kong and intensifying pressure on Taiwan, with the objective of swallowing up these two independent states.
The world knows that China is an oppressive one-party state, governed by a Marxist-Leninist cadre, whose leader, Xi Jinping, has amassed more personal power than anyone in Beijing since Mao Zedong. It has its execrable human rights record, which includes, among other brutalities, putting a million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps and presents a stronger ideological challenge than the Soviet Union and is exerting a pull toward autocracy. China’s fusion of authoritarian capitalism and digital surveillance may prove more durable and attractive than Russian Marxism. It has establish a position of hegemony over Asia, now the world’s largest market, after a century of humiliation, China is eager to stand tall, asserting its power in Asia and beyond.
The Burmese leaders must remember that the Yīdài yīlù or BRI is designed to strengthen infrastructure, trade, and investment links between China and more than 65 other countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Latin Americas that together account for over 30 percent of global GDP, 62 percent of the population, and 75 percent of known energy reserves, according to the World Bank. Chinese economic imperialism or rather the spread of soft power through economics rather than diplomacy or conquest is their main goal.
One must note that Yīdài yīlù takes different forms in different regions. In Africa, for instance, China is providing loans, exporting technology, and building infrastructure in countries such as Guinea and Kenya while mining the nations’ natural resources. In other countries, China’s government and large Chinese tech companies such as Huawei and ZTE are expanding the nation’s “Digital Silk Road” of Chinese-built fiber-optic networks, as well as equipping foreign governments with mass surveillance and internet censorship tools which the current Myanmar Tatmadaw highly appreciate it.
President Xi Jingping determined to restore the hegemony of China’s imperial past and rebuild that so-called heavenly dynasty. Xi’s state, the Chinese academy, and the media have churned out a huge number of essays, dissertations, and articles that glorify this imperial past as part of justifying their project of becoming a great power. Xi’s clique is also aware that before China can achieve its imperial ambition it has to eliminate its burden of colonial legacy, i.e., take over Taiwan and accomplish the CCP’s historic task of national unification first. But this will necessarily bring it into conflict with the US sooner or later.
Hence, the Taiwan issue simultaneously carries both China’s self-defence dimension (even the US acknowledges that Taiwan is “part of China”) and also an-inter imperialist rivalry. In order to “unify with Taiwan,” not to speak of a global ambition, Beijing must first overcome China’s persistent weaknesses especially in its technology, its economy, and its lack of international allies and that’s where Yīdài yīlù comes in.
China 2025 wants to develop their independent technological capacities and move up the global value chain. They want to use Yīdài yīlù to build infrastructure throughout Eurasia in line with Chinese interests. At the same time, we should be clear that it is also a symptom of China’s problems of overproduction and overcapacity. They are using Yīdài yīlù to absorb all this excess capacity as these are central in China’s imperialist project.
The Burmese must understand that China is a distinctive state capitalist power and an expansionist one, which is not willing to be a second-rate partner to the US. China is thus a component part of global neoliberalism and also a state capitalist power, which stands apart from it. This peculiar combination means it simultaneously benefits from the neoliberal order and represents a challenge to the entire world.
Lamentably it is only now that the Westerners came to understand the challenge of China too late. They flooded in to invest in the private sector or in joint ventures with the state companies in China. But they did not fully realize that the Chinese state is always behind even seemingly private corporations. In China, even if a corporation is a genuinely private, it must bow to the demands put to it by the state controls by the Chinese Communist Party.
History indicates that Vietnam is the only country in Southeast Asia that have successively and resolutely fought the world’s three super powers of France, America and China while every Burmese recollect that the first Burmese kingdom was destroyed by the Chinese Kublai Khan’s Yuan dynasty in 1287. But in 1769 in second Sino-Burmese War (清緬戰爭;), the Qing Chinese invasions was successfully repelled by the Burmese and of course in modern period when the Chinese KMT encroachment the Sino Burma border under the pretext of fighting the communist with the help of the Americans were successfully repelled by Operation Bayinaung. But the remnants of KMT Chinese is there today producing the world’s best Heroin an opioid drug killing the people of the world.
The Chinese main proverb of “Poverty is the evilest enemy of mankind” is the main philosophy that drives the Yīdài yīlù projects in 26 countries across Europe Asia and Africa but it contradicts the Western or rather the universal concept that “Man shall not live by bread alone” Matt 4:4. The utopia of the Homo sapiens cannot measure by the economic barometer alone but rather by freedom. That is why, if one looks back history, every Chinese neighbor fought back the Chinese encroachment, and history will repeat itself because in Southeast Asia the two ese (Burmese and Vietnamese) resolutely fought back the Chinese and now it seems that the two keys (Yankee and Monkey) indicating the Free World will have to fight back the subtle Chinese encroachment.