Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

China is Here! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

Without thinking too deeply, can you quickly name some successful Chinese brands?

Perhaps the first brand to come to mind is the electronic appliance company “Haier” and perhaps after this you might think of the “Lenovo” computer technology company which has acquired the former IBM Personal Computing division and which is preparing to launch a new smartphone. Perhaps if you rack your brains you might even recall the famous Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies, or car manufactures such as “Chery” and “Geely” and others. However it would be difficult for anyone go to further than this and name other Chinese brands, and this is because China has become the factory of the world today and the vast majority of factories in China are producing brand goods for foreign companies.

This is something that is likely to change. China has learned lessons from the Asian Tigers, particularly Taiwan, which was a country that was known for its cheap manufacturing to the point that the term “Taiwanese” became synonymous with any derivative or bad quality product in the Arab world. Taiwan continues to suffer from this negative reputation and it has spent a huge amount of money on public relations campaigns to change this perception, but to no avail. China has large ambitions that go beyond the country’s own borders, and China is keen for its name to be associated with high production values and reasonable prices. China’s toy sector remains in shock over accusations that poisonous lead substances were used in the production of some toys, and this is something that China has barely begun to recover from.

The Chinese economy is strong and continues to achieve a miraculous annual growth rate of 10 percent, which is the highest economic growth rate in the world. China has expanded its economic influence internationally, and China today enjoys a “huge” presence in Asia, an “impressive” presence in Africa, a “growing” presence in Latin America, and a “cautious” presence in Europe. With this large presence on the international stage, the term “imperialism” has begun to be associated with the rise of China, even though the country has never been known for its expansionist ambitions. However China today has begun to take a strategic outlook and move to prepare for the future. China believes that a fierce trade war with the West is inevitable, and it believes that the struggle over the pricing of its currency against the dollar represents the first round of this conflict. China also believes that there is a shadow war taking place over energy, and it believes that the West aims to control Iraq and Afghanistan, and later Iran, in order to secure its supply of oil and natural gas in this critical region that oil and gas pipelines must pass through.

This is the reason behind China’s extremely cautious approach towards military action or sanctions on Iran, for Iran is one of China’s most important energy exporters. So what important steps will China take in the future?

China will most likely resort to old style methods and focus on railways, in the same manner that the British built a strong railway network throughout Africa, and another throughout the Indian sub-continent. Russia also has a railway network that links all regions of the country, while also linking Russia to Turkmenistan and the Caspian Sea via Kazakhstan.

Today China has a “fantasy” plan to build a high-speed railway network that will link Chinese cities to one another, in addition to an [international] railway network that will link China to mainland Europe, and another that will link China with the rest of Asia including Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore. This high-speed railway network will see 800 high-speed trains that can travel at speeds up to 350 km per hour, which is faster than current high-speed trains in Europe and Japan. China believes that a railway network such as this will change the reality on the ground, and allow the country to [economically] expand, exporting its good and people all across the world. China intends to use “soft imperialism” to ensure this [economic] expansion, without the need for weapons or destruction. The Chinese –taking into account their huge population – are capable of spreading across the globe and establishing Chinese communities in all parts of the world. The Arab world is aware of this, for the Chinese are everywhere from Abha and the Suez Canal to Omdurman and Oran. Get ready for the Chinese era.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

More Posts