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Almost daily, China proves how powerful it has become. In recent decades the Communist nation has pitted itself against the US for the prize of leading global powerhouse. So often does the country flout almost globally accepted universal human rights without direct or immediate repercussions.
The persecution of Xinjiang’s Uighur muslims is a perfect example.
Over a million Muslims there are thought to have been detained for “reeducation” purposes.
It is believed that Xi Jinping’s government wants to assimilate China’s ethnic groups into Han Chinese culture – in effect creating an ethnically “pure” Chinese race in the party’s vision.
Xinjiang is China’s most westerly province.
Closer to Beijing, in the south east, is Hong Kong.
The autonomous island has hit headlines recently after the mainland introduced a controversial new security law that curtails rights such as free speech.
Many view the events in Hong Kong as inevitable, as the island would have come under the mainland’s rule by 2047 when the “One Country, Two Systems” rule, agreed between then colonial power Britain and China in 1997, expired.
Increasingly, China is able to punish countries it previously relied on through strict sanctions.
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Today, for example, Beijing announced sanctions on top Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio after the US imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for human rights abuses in Xinjiang – though many have criticised the US for acting too slowly.
It also imposed sanctions on Republican congressman Chris Smith; Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback; and a government agency, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China.
It is viewed as a tit-for-tat move as US President Donald Trump continues to ramp up his condemnation of Beijing.
The nation would previously not have been able to place such sanctions on Western countries.
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Now, however, after amassing a considerable wealth and reliance from countries such as the US and UK, China enjoys influence both within and beyond its borders.
Sean King, senior vice president at Park Strategies and business advisor to Asia, explained to Express.co.uk the extent to which the West had “dug its own grave” in allowing China to grow as big as it has done.
He said: “I think America and China were great friends and allies until the Communist Party took over.
“But, it’s time for a reality check for what this government and party is up to.
“I think for too long we rationalised with ourselves that if we could make a buck, a pound or a euro there, then somehow China would open up more to its own people and democratise – yet, it’s been proved that’s clearly not the case.
“If anything we’ve fallen further into it and industrialised and built up this power.
“We’ve sort of dug our own grave to a certain extent.
“We shouldn’t be helping the government clamp down on its own people by doing more business there and investing there and giving them more technology they can use against their own people.”
When asked to what extent he believed that the West can be wholly blamed for the metamorphosis of China into a global player, Mr King said a failure to pay attention to political events in southeast Asia was much to blame.
He argued: “I think it’s our fault for not noticing the signs sooner and investing so much and trading so much with the country that doesn’t let people worship, whether it’s Muslims in Xinjiang whether its crosses being taken off churches, catholics having to go underground for mass.
“China bans Facebook, Twitter, and they don’t let their people vote.
“They prop up North Korea, they sell weapons to Iran, they militarise the South China Sea, and they threaten Taiwan with over a thousand missiles.
“I’m not here to evangelise China – that change has to come from within, but the signs have been there for 20 to 30 years that it is an autocratic, dictatorial regime that doesn’t share our values.
“We should not be doing business there, we should not be investing and making this power stronger than it already is.”
China’s GDP in 2019 was estimated at around $14.3trillion – less than the US’ $21.43trillion.
As China has amassed an impressive wealth, it has started state sanctioned money lending programmes and construction projects, for example, the Belt and Road Initiative, a strategy involving infrastructure development and investments in nearly 70 countries, especially central Asia and Africa.
China now claims its lending total exceeds more than five percent of global GDP.
The country’s strength rests with the fact that almost all lending comes directly from the government or state controlled entities.
According to the Harvard Business Review, the Chinese state and its subsidiaries have lent about $1.5trillion in direct loans and trade credits to more than 150 countries around the globe.
This has turned the country into the world’s largest official creditor — surpassing traditional, official lenders such as the World Bank, the IMF, or all OECD creditor governments combined.
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