CHINA has a rich history. It was unified by its first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, 2,200 years ago. After more than two millennia of imperial dynasties’ rule, the Chinese monarchy ended with the birth of Republic of China and, subsequently, People’s Republic of China. It is now one of five remaining communist states in the world.
Who would imagine that China, one of the poorest countries in the 1980s, could become the world’s second largest economy in less than four decades?
China’s economic growth is truly an economic miracle. This outstanding success began when the country started to open up its market and liberalise the economy, a bold move by Deng Xiaoping. It, in fact, contradicted communism practice and economic philosophy. It was the only country in the world to achieve an average of almost 10 per cent of economic growth from 1980 to last year.
Politically, China has been ruled by autocratic communist regimes since 1949. This, to a certain extent, brings political stability.
The success stories of China are so visible that people around the world could see and feel the impact. In 2010, the country overtook the United States to become the world’s largest consumer of energy. Energy consumption and economic growth are interrelated, and this is reflected by the rapid economic growth that is taking place across China.
The 2017 Fortune 500 lists 115 Chinese companies and this is amazing considering that in 2000, only 10 Chinese companies were listed. More and more privately owned Chinese companies are entering the list. Previously, most of the companies were government-owned entities.
Many of these newly listed Chinese Fortune 500 companies are expanding globally. Among them are Huawei, the networking and telecommunications multinational company that has joined the ranks of the world’s largest smartphone makers, and Ali Baba, the giant e-commerce company that is among the world’s largest retailers.
The increasing number of Chinese multinational companies is in line with the growing number of Chinese products exported overseas. Made in China products can be bought almost anywhere.
More and more Chinese companies are also actively involved in taking over or purchasing stakes in major companies around the world. For instance, Lenovo, which bought IBM PC 12 years ago, acquired another large entity, Motorola Mobility, in 2014.
China’s dominance will be strengthened with its One Belt, One Road initiative. It is a mega infrastructure project that involves building high-speed rails in east Africa, constructing gas pipelines in central Asia, and building hundreds of tunnels and bridges to expand China’s soft power and create new markets for its construction companies.
Many lessons can be learned from China. China is a rising superpower and its hegemony is affecting all of us in many forms. The country can be a threat for some and offer vast opportunities to others. The time is here — welcome to the new era of China’s hegemony.
Mohd Nadzri Kamsin, Senior analyst, Institut Darul Ridzuan, Ipoh, Perak