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OBOR: Packing China’s need as Xi-Jinping’s dream

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With India choosing to skip the O.B.O.R. conference in China over legitimate sovereignty issues, it irked the Chinese establishment to a point where they could not hide their irritation. Chinese global English papers were soaked in their irritation.

Like the USA and some countries of Europe have held a powerful position for almost more than two centuries, Chinese neo-natal power projection is not going well with its old and neo neighbors.

After a century of humiliation by Japan and other forces of West, China wants to supersede all of them and project itself as “only force to reckon with in Asia” and “an alternate to the USA, globally”. The salt on the wound was rubbed as recent as 1996 tensions between China-Tiwan-&-USA. Where china was forced to see a self-infected humiliation. The demo of excellent control of Malacca straits by USA Navvy or even the way the USA had taken care of Taiwan was beyond what Chinese ever anticipated.

Though China failed to control its East (which is now fast changing), they had concerns about its west, especially India. Forcible annexation of Tibet along with 1962 Sino-Indo war gave China a muscle to show in the International arena. The classical example of which is that china never allowed the world even to evaluate the millions of Buddhist life loss in Tibet.

Over a thousand-year Indians got programmed to deal with threats from Islamic invasion from the west. India failed to read China miserably, as India-China historically never shared a boundary. India had a boundary with Tibet. Which since time immemorial is friendlier and more inclined towards India than China.

During the recovery phase of WW2, west conveniently chose to ignore Chinese aggression in Tibet & later west saw a market in China. Which made west even further hoodwinked. In all this, world, especially the west forgot that “present structure of government is non-democratic and the one which believes that “power start flowing from the barrel of gun”. The democratic custodian of Chinese power was caged in Taiwan. It is often said that West does not care about history. But East does. China had not forgotten the downtrodden years of China.

In the quest to be an Asian power by a huge margin and a global alternative to the USA, Chinese played the game which west understands the most i.e. “financial returns”. Coupled with water-tight closed gates for those rules which hurt the China most i.e. “human rights, Animal rights, democratic freedom, media freedom and more”.  The greed for financial returns dominated too much that The West could not put pressure on China to open the closed gates. Above all, west helped China get UNSC membership too.

China projected and achieved those growth rates by utilizing virtually every method. Including currency manipulation. Irrespective of what the consequences be, they created such a huge and east-condensed infrastructure that they really ever needed. The efficiency utilization of such infrastructure is very poor. Ghost cities of China are an example of that which no society should imitate.

Along with infrastructure (to match growth digits), to achieve the goal of “power projection”, China started to build the huge piles of forex reserves (Treasury bonds). They did not even bother if the main portion of their money is getting locked in The USA’s Treasury bonds. Worth noting that China is the biggest holder of USA Treasury bonds. The level of Chinese forex is of unprecedented order. Why would a country hold so much of bonds of other countries? The answer is, “to manipulate”. Interestingly when China holds USA Treasury bonds, the return on those bonds are mere 1%. Which pains china the most.

The best way to arm twist is to pump-or-pull these money holdings at will. The example of which was clearly demonstrated in a known sudden stock fall of USA a few years back. Imagine if, for no reason, Mumbai stock suddenly dips 5000 points.

Taste of such arm twisting was excellently exhibited by Saudis too. When the USA wanted to include Saudis in the list of countries which helped to execute of 9-11. Saudis threatened to withdraw all 800 billion dollars from the USA.

With aging, infra and the majority of funds locked in 1% type of investments, Chinese premier gets a “dream”. And the dream is “OBOR”.

Now the game begins.

Chinese premier’s dream would be anyone’s dream to park the funds into those markets which have higher returns. The essence of OBOR is not any love for ancient silk routes or neo-love for the people of other cultures, nor it is about selling products or services to other countries, but, about “giving loans on higher interest rates”. This is the only option China has, to offset its holding of costly Treasury bonds, while keep holding the majority of such bonds for arm-twisting. Get some money out of 1% type investments, spot the cracks of other weaker countries, offer them loans but with complete monitoring, if the loss happens then create a debt-trap and swap for strategic gains and ensure that China’s East-condensed overbuilt infrastructure can sustain.

A country like Pakistan where remittances from their own people are dropping sharply becomes an easy catch. Many other countries like that. Also, these countries are an easy target to sell used infrastructure products like “use power plants, used railway engines and coaches, second-hand ships, cars etc”. Not just that, in a single shot killing many birds. Like encircling India and other countries. What is encircling for India, is as good encirclement for others too.

With all this game plan around, what can India do to ensure that China does not harm the interest of others around? Including India. With kind of arm-twisting China is doing, India has no other option left but, “to form the opinion of not only participating countries but entire world about its consequences”. The idea should not sound like as if India wants to de-rail OBOR, but it should sound like, “India wants a win-win deal for all and not just china alone”. The biggest crack right now in OBOR is that the projects which are bilateral in-between china and other countries are also shown as a part of OBOR. This is to validate the marketing gimmick “A trillion-dollar trade”. India must expose this. Pressing only on sovereignty issue may not cut too much of mental ice of the world. The Western world is projecting for a long time that they believe in decoupling the “pending issues” with “trade”. It is virtually impossible for them to deviate from this stand.

Following are few thoughts which can help India build a global opinion.

  • OBOR should not be a Chinese stuff. Let’s formulate an international body of participating countries which will turn OBOR into reality.
  • Along with technical wings, this body must have the Human rights-wing, Environment wing and all those wings for which China has eternally closed the doors. China is notorious for its Prison Labour and Human Organ harvesting. These practices and culture must not travel via OBOR from China to other countries.
  • Especially “Animal rights wing“, seeing the impact of China’s love for animal meat on Pakistan’s Donkey population or Tiger penis soup….
  • No compromise on Sovereignty issues. No colonization.
  • The investment in OBOR, should not be only by China. But an international fund is made and investment can be made by any stakeholder. Let other countries to offset their surplus costly holdings.
  • Since the investment in OBOR is via an international fund, projects must be executed in complete transparency.
  • The investments must be in accordance with some ratio of GDP w.r.t. Time, of the host country. Concentrated investment in a single zone may disturb the strategic balance of the region. Imagine if Pakistan gets 200-billion-dollar funding which does not justify their GDP. They will virtually bully India, Afghanistan, Iran around…
  • No military infrastructure must be built under OBOR. Or vice-versa.
  • Debt analysis must be done for each project and steps of debt recovery (must be documented before the project). No debt swap be allowed under any circumstances in terms of “land swap, the militarization of zones, swapping with weapons or technology of weapons etc.”
  • If debt happens, like a businessman takes the loss, participating countries must bear the loss as a bad investment.
  • The safety of projects will be taken care only by the host country alone. In the case of host country gives up the security and fails to protect the investment, then the viability of project must be re-evaluated and safety of these projects must be taken care by the pool of equal security people from different participating countries.
  • Environment protection rules of the international order need to be in place. An open secret that china is able to produce dirt cheap products (not just cheap labor) as the cost of maintaining the environment is absolutely nil. How a person running a factory in Australia or North Europe, Canada, USA or India compete with China when the former is putting extra money to ensure the environment is not polluted.
  • Being Chinese president’s dream of re-opening the ancient silk routes, China must open its labor market for at least participating countries. The remittances from China to these countries must be healthy.
  • Procurement must be local. Arm twisting or oiling the local governments to sell used products must be inhibited.
  • For core technology projects, technology transfer must happen.
  • All host countries must open up a basic level of communication medium. Some countries do not even allow basic Google, Facebook etc access.
  • Anti-dumping rules must be clear.
  • OBOR project must not harm agriculture economic ecosystem of the host country.

India must work towards forming world’s opinion and bring them on common grounds. Play the game in the same manner which West and Europe understand i.e. Stand for pro-growth, project decoupling of issues and humanitarian issues. Sandwich sovereignty issues like “salt in a meal”. Though less but most important.

The World must not forget that 1% return on its locked-money is China’s Achilles heel and OBOR is its remedy. Use OBOR and push China to open itself to the entire world. The only way world can ensure that “china’s rise, be a peaceful rise”.

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