Chinese Prosperity in the Age of Sanctions


Bharat Chand


The rise of China in 21st century has been a matter of great concern throughout the world. The debate on whether China would reshape the world order by 2049 AD, the year when it celebrates centenary of communist rule in China, surpassing the USA is viewed as a challenging job by the world community. The aging population, trade sanctions by the USA and isolationist policy of the west that many argue as an obstacle to Chinese prosperity to my view merely affect the Chinese prosperity in the days ahead.

China has been a global player in terms of manufacturing, inventions, discoveries and maintaining good governance since the classical age.  ‘The Ages of Globalization: Geography, Technology and Institutions’ written by Jeffrey D. Sachs, the professor at Columbia University and one of the champions of Sustainable Development states in the book that Song Dynasty that ruled China during 960-1279 AD had carried out many reformations, putting China on top in many sectors of development. Wider reformations on land distribution, good governance, the joint stock companies for merchants, nautical compass and maritime technology to connect China by opening its harbors and land routes had helped China lead the world in many sectors. Acumen rulers ruling then had also been successful in inventing gunpowder, moveable printing press, aiding the businesses and trades they were primarily focusing. In addition to these, they also had made steady progress on inventing mechanical clock, paper currency and institutes of banking at the time when the world was bereft of many facilities mentioned above. With these inventions as legacy, China has been progressing a lot in technological advancements, helping it become one of the largest manufactures of the world.

China’s rise we are witnessing is the outcome of workaholic tendency developed since the ancient time. One of the commentators commenting on China’s strengths in today’s world in the latest edition of ‘The Economist’ makes the point that China has become successful not only by copying and stealing that many westerners hasten to blame but by applying the skills garnered in course of assembling the products technologically created in the west including the US. The principle ‘learning by doing’ it adopts is helping it to make a gigantic progress nobody dreamt in even his/her wildest imagination few decades back. Many western firms ranging from automobiles to smartphones including the Apple have made Chinese firms learn many skills required to boost up its economy domestically. Honing the skills of assembling the western products using its manpower over the years has assisted China stand independent in the age of sanctions imposed by the western countries spearheaded by the US. China’s reliance on importing many items from western countries is being reduced gradually as it has been massively investing huge amount of money in the fields it was heavily dependent few years back. It is seen that right after the sanctions have been in place by the US on China, it is devising ways and means to be independent on its own, putting in practice the prowess, acumen and skills it has gathered in course of assembling the western technology. The solar panels and batteries it manufactures have helped it to carve a niche in the realm of renewable energy, thus becoming the front-runner in the world. The subsidy to the farmers for cow farming to reduce its reliance on beef import from Australia is a step toward becoming independent in beef consumption. Many reformations it is gearing up speak about its plans to remain independent in the days to come. When China has proved itself in leading many sectors, western countries sanctions on it may not deter it from surpassing the dominance of US by 2040s.

China’s ambitious plan on Belt and Road Initiative introduced by Xi Jinping in 2013 after he assumed office as the president is helping to maximize its investments in the infrastructures throughout the world. The investments through Belt and Road Initiative is to work in partnership with the states it is connecting. The massive spike in trade and business is deemed to reduce its reliance on western countries. To clarify the objectives of BRI connecting the world, Parag Khanna vividly makes the point in his book entitled ‘The Future is Asian: The Global Order in The Twenty- First Century’ that ‘in order to have the smooth supply of what it is selling and buying in the world, it has deployed thousands of its armies from South China Sea to Afghanistan to East Africa.’ The deployment of armies is said to ease the supply of the products in international market without any obstacles.

Knowing the future actions of the western countries towards China, Xi introduced the mega project entitled ‘Made in China 2025’, in a bid to be independent from manufacturing of solar panels, lithium batteries to making of Chips widely used in high end technology. Already leading in 5G network, high speed rail and transmission lines, it is also trying to dominate the chip market gradually as well. Mobile phones available in average price across the world have been dominated by China, making it become one of the largest manufacturers of mobile phones of the world. Huawei, One Plus and Xaomi manufactured in China are winning the hearts of millions each year. One Plus for instance, is head to head, competing with iPhone and Samsung in the global market in its high-end smartphone category.

China, despite making strides in numerous categories, has constantly been attacked by the western governments and media outlets for being authoritative towards its people, restricting the democratic practices, individual rights and duties. The news report on Uyghur Muslim community residing in north western part of Xinjiang province is deemed to have restricted from exercising democratic rights and are badly treated by the government while raising their concerns. The way the narrative on Uyghur community in international media is created to enrage the dissenting groups of China, eventually may help them unite to speak against the government and create unrest, chaos against the government. This does not mean that Chinese government has been loyal to these dissenters but the way it comes into limelight in international media is an act of provocation including the one raising voice against the suppression of Tiananmen Square incident in 1989. The web portals with their origin in the US get supremely supervised by Chinese government to control the hoax they create in media. This is the very reason behind putting media restriction on media outlets with their connection in the west.

Despite facing various sanctions from across the world, China has been moving forward with its own manufacturing policy. Chinese dream to surpass the world order dominated by the US can only be materialized once it fulfills its domestic demands without fully relying on Western countries.


(Bharat Chand is an independent researcher as well a lecturer teaching at various colleges in Kathmandu)


Note: The opinions are the author’s personal. English.SahityaPost is not answerable for them.