BY PROF R INDIATSI NASIBI
In a February 2003 edition of Newsweek, Professor of History at Yale University, Paul Kennedy, said, “the US military budget will soon be equal to that of all countries in the world combined.”
Yet even now, hawkish policy makers in Washington are concerned that the US defence forces are dangerously thin and overstretched. So how can both facts be true?
And, a book by Martin Jacques, When China Rules the World provides adequate and, precise answers to economic rise in Asia.
The book is a compelling and thought provoking analysis of global economic trends that defies the common western assumptions: that to be fully modern, a nation must become democratic, financially transparent and legally accountable.
Jacques argues persuasively that China is on track to take over as the World’s dominant power and that when it does, it will make the rules on its own terms, with little regard for what existed before.
Even before Jacques’ analysis, The Economist magazine had pointed out that China was growing at a tremendous rate. In 2009 when the G7 economies declined by 3.5 per cent and the US GDP fell by 1 per cent, China’s grew by 15 per cent, Korea’s by almost 10 per cent and Singapore’s by 21 per cent.
This was despite the prediction from the International Monetary Fund in May that year that Asia’s economies would be weak and tepid due to economic downturn in the west.
It was clear then that forecasters in the west underestimated the ability of Asian tigers to rebound from recession.
Prof Mike Buchanan, an economist with Goldman Sachs, took exception to this underrating, saying that he expected China’s economy to grow by 9.4 per cent in 2008 and 11.9 per cent in 2010.
Perhaps I should conclude this debate by what economist Lawrence Lau said when he intimated that China’s GDP will equal that of United States in 2026. Elsewhere, others predicted that by 2040 China’s economy would have surpassed the US. They cite China’s advances in space, oil exploration in Africa and other deals as reasons for this advancement.
In 2004, China overtook Japan to become the world’s second largest oil importer-trailing only the United States. Now China is in Africa and everywhere for the energy resources it requires to feed its feverish growth of more than 10 per cent annually.
After a deal between China’s state owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Russia’s largest Oil Company, Yukos, the Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a deal for the construction of a 2,400-kilometre pipeline to Beijing. This $150 billion deal will move 500,000 barrels of oil from Siberia to Beijing daily.
Besides the Yukos deal, China’s hunger for energy is seen in oil deals in Iraq, Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, a 30 year deal to buy Gabonese Crude, oil exploration, oil explorations in Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Angola, Niger and Ethiopia.
The advantages that China has vis-à-vis the US are its unique location, size and population and cultural continuity that surpass that of the United States..
Elsewhere in our local press, an eminent Scholar, Prof Makau Mutua questions China’s global ambition while in the same vein former South Africa president, Thabo Mbeki wonders whether “China could re-colonise Africa through its easy money”
Chinese imperial history is not hidden. From a more recent Minq Dynasty 1634 to Qing Dynasty that ends in 1911, China had colonies for the reasons the west colonized Africa. If African leaders acquiesce to China’s domestic need for raw material, the consequences of China’s moves in Africa will be catastrophic. The Chinese annual Oil consumption is estimated at 10 per cent.
As a result Beijing’s interest in Sudan’s six billion barrels proven reserve and the other oil producing states like Angola, Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon and Kenya cannot be minimized since 45 per cent of the world’s oil reserve in Saudi Arabia and Iraq is a monopoly of the United States.
China has its national interest. African leaders should guard the continent’s interest.
That said, I was disappointed that African countries did not demand enough during the China-African Summit in Beijing recently
The writer is a professor of economics and management at the United States International University.