A rising China is showing its might in the age of finance

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 February, 2018, 11:49pm

As China continues its commercial and military expansion, it will eventually experience what all such enterprises have encountered in the past – the apprehension and fear of those affected.

As history tells us, no expansion is perceived as universally beneficial. As Western nations centuries ago arrived in the Orient and began to trade, they often aroused animosity but, with superior weapons, they overcame weaker opponents to establish colonies. Trade was very profitable, but not to both sides, as China found out as it lost silver to buy opium. India’s raw materials were acquired cheaply but it had to buy expensive finished products. The Dutch exploited Indonesia; Spain profited from the Philippines and Japan tried to expand its “greater East Asia co-prosperity sphere”.

In all these so-called commercial ventures, guns were the deciding factor, since people do not welcome being exploited by foreign forces. France learned this lesson at Dien Bien Phu and the US eventually had to learn the same bitter lesson.

A more modern commercial tool, more honourable than opium or guns, is debt

But now nations are more civilised. Hi-tech weapons are now used, not to conquer, but to intimidate and threaten. Of course, selling them is even better, since we can make more money without risking our soldiers or being branded as aggressors.

A more modern commercial tool, more honourable than opium or guns, is debt. Lend lots of money to the ruling classes, the dictators and generals, to erect new stadiums, air and naval bases and other luxuries. You now have a weaker nation under your control. Eventually, the exploited common people will revolt. But their civil war is no threat to you and you can sell guns to both sides. This situation is called the Syrian syndrome: let the UN sort it out.

Humanity’s rise through the ages, from the Stone Age to the atomic age, has been marked by great progress in weaponry. Perhaps our age will be celebrated as one using superior – but non-lethal – weapons, improved and marketed by the US, the UK, the European Union, oil-rich Middle Eastern nations and now by China. The suggested name for this new era in mankind’s evolution is the “age of finance”.

J. Geitner, Sham Shui Po