A new book titled the ‘Hidden Hand’ makes the claim that China is grooming the West into a state of economic infancy. From generously financing a Washington think tank, to owning a part-share of Rotterdam port, encouraging “friendship” clubs like Britain’s 48 Group Club – China is aiming to soften up the international discourse to its favour, so claim authors Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg. The end goal, the authors set out, is the dominance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on a global scale to which it becomes unchallengeable.
China, many observe, is intent on pushing its own definitions on several global issues on other political systems.
Some include terrorism, human rights, security and even multilateralism.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been criticised, including by US President Donald Trump, for “bowing down” to Beijing.
This pursuit of Xi Jinpng’s – attempting to get what is best for him and his country – is something that Sean King, senior vice president at Park Strategies and business advisor to Asia, told Express.co.uk is central to Beijing’s effort to eventually manipulate the West economically.
China: Xi Jinping will use economic ‘coercion’ against the West to get what it wants, said Sean King
Xi Jinping: China’s president has built the country into a modern economic powerhouse
“Coercive” methods will become more prevalent, Mr King said, as well as an increase in effort to shape the world’s view of China in a way that is favourable to the CCP.
He explained: “China is very focused on controlling and shaping how people view them and discuss them.
“There’s an element of economic coercion going on where if you want to trade with China you have to tow the line on issues that are important to them like Taiwan, like Tibet, the South China Sea, and Hong Kong.
“We saw this in 2010 when the Nobel committee gave Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo a Nobel Peace Prize – even though the Nobel committee is an independent entity, China retaliated by blocking imports of Norwegian Salmon to get back at Norway for its decision.
Trade war: The US and China are currently engaged in a trade war
“In 2016, when South Korea agreed to let the US military deploy its terminal high altitude aerial defence system – its an anti-missile battery to protect South Korean and US troops from North Korean missiles – China retaliated by stopping Chinese tourists visiting South Korea, not awarding visas to Korean pop stars, boycotting and shutting down the company that sold the US the land for the missiles site, and blocking and shutting down their supermarkets in China.
“They use economic coercion to get what they want.
“And now we see with the Belt and Road Initiative they’re also trying to infiltrate central and eastern Europe and make those countries more dependent on their trade and we see this with natural resource extraction across Africa too.”
Africa is an especially salient example of where China has utilised its powerhouse stature to exert influence veiled by apparently benign infrastructural aid.
Boris Johnson: The UK PM has recently been entangled in controversy with China over Hong Kong
Hong Kong: The autonomous region is one example of China’s willingness to go against the grain
The Belt and Road Initiative will see China invest tens of billions of dollars – around £96billion – as part of an economic plan that will rebuild ports, roads and rail networks en route and on the continent.
At a summit of world leaders in 2017, Xi said: “Trade is the important engine of economic development.”
The plan was first unveiled in 2013 and revealed ambitious sites for areas of Europe, Asia, Africa and beyond.
Part of the plan saw China build a sprawling railway freighter line from Beijing to London – an impressive 7,500 miles of track.
South China Sea: The waterway is one of the most highly contended regions on the planet
It has essentially reopened the ancient Silk Road route used by traders throughout history.
Yet many countries, including Japan and India, have remained suspicious of China’s intentions.
Experts including Mr King believe that the West needs to do more to recognise their part in enabling China to pursue such extensive programmes.
He said that countries like the US and UK should gauge their support – both political and economic – in terms of “values”.
Belt and Road: China’s influence can be found across Asia and Africa through infrastructure projects
He explained: I think for too long we have 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.”
Hidden Hand by Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg is published by Oneworld (£20).