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 user 2007-09-06 at 12:20:00 pm Views: 97
  • #18702

    China’s Influence Spreads Around World
    07 KARRATHA, Australia – For nearly three decades, Chinese peasants
    have left their villages for crowded dormitories and sweaty assembly
    lines, churning out goods for world markets. Now, China is turning the
    tables.Here in the Australian Outback, Shane Padley toils in the
    scorching heat, 2,000 miles from his home, to build an extension to a
    liquefied natural gas plant that feeds China’s ravenous hunger for
    energy.At night, the 34-year-old carpenter sleeps in a tin dwelling
    known as a “donga,” the size of a shipping container and divided into
    four rooms, each barely big enough for a bed. There are few other
    places for Padley to live in this boomtown.Duct-taped to the wall is a
    snapshot of the blonde girlfriend he left behind and worries he may
    lose. But, he says, “I can make nearly double what I’d be making back
    home in the Sydney area.”

    The reason: China.
    years, China’s booming economy touched daily life in the West most
    visibly through the “made-in-China” label on everything from clothes to
    computers. But now, economic growth is giving rise to something more
    that can’t be measured just by widgets and gadgets – a shift in China’s
    balance of power with the rest of the world.China’s reach now extends
    from the Australian desert through the Sahara to the Amazonian jungle -
    and it’s those regions supplying goods for China, not just the other
    way around. China has stepped up its political and diplomatic presence,
    most notably in Africa, where it is funneling billions of dollars in
    aid. And it is increasingly shaping the lifestyle of people around the
    world, as the United States did before it, right down to the
    Mandarin-language courses being taught in schools from Argentina to
    Virginia.China, like the United States, is also learning that global
    power cuts both ways. The backlash over tainted toothpaste and toxic
    pet food has been severe, as has the criticism over China’s support for
    regimes such Sudan’s.

    To understand why China’s influence is increasingly pushing past its borders, just do the math.
    1.3 billion people want something, the world feels it. And when those
    people in ever increasing numbers are joining a swelling middle class
    eager for a richer lifestyle, the world feels it even more.If China’s
    growth continues, its consumer market will be the world’s second
    largest by 2015. The Chinese already eat 32 percent of the world’s
    rice, build with 47 percent of its cement and smoke one out of every
    three cigarettes.China’s desire for expensive hardwood to turn into
    top-quality floorboards for its luxury skyscrapers has penetrated deep
    into the Amazon jungle. For example, in the isolated community of Novo
    Progresso, or New Progress in Portuguese, one of the biggest sawmills
    was started by the mayor with financing from Chinese investors.China
    accounts for 30 percent of the wood exported from logging operations in
    remote towns across Brazil’s rain forest, where trucks carry the
    finished product hundreds of miles along muddy roads to river ports,
    said Luiz Carlos Tremonte, who heads an influential wood industry
    association. Many Chinese purchasers now travel to Brazil to clinch
    deals, and are almost always accompanied at business meetings by
    friends or relatives of Chinese descent who live there.”Ten years ago
    no one knew about China in Brazil; then the demand just exploded and
    they’re buying a lot,” Tremonte said. “This wood is great for floors,
    and they love it there.”

    The Bovespa stock index in Brazil has climbed more than 300 percent since 2002, riding the China wave.
    is buying coal mining equipment from Poland and drilling for oil and
    gas in Ethiopia and Nigeria. It has poured hundreds of millions of
    dollars into Zambia’s copper industry. It is the world’s biggest market
    for mobile phones, headed for 520 million handsets this year. The list
    goes on.Along with looking to other countries for goods for its people,
    China is also going far and wide in search of markets for its
    products.In war-torn Liberia, where electricity is hard to come by,
    Chinese-made Tiger generators keep the local economy humming. Costlier
    Western brands, favored by aid agencies and diplomats, are beyond the
    reach of small business owners such as Mohammed Kiawu, 30, who runs a
    phone stall in the capital, Monrovia.A used Tiger generator costs
    around $50, he said over the steady beat of his generator. “But even
    $250 is not enough to buy a used American or European generator. They
    are not meant for people like myself.”The Chinese generators are more
    prone to break down, Kiawu said. When the starter cable snapped on one,
    he replaced it with twine. But by making items for ordinary people, he
    predicted, China “will take control of the heart of the common people
    of Africa soon.”

    China is having to make up for decades of economic stagnation after the communist takeover in 1949.
    Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping began dabbling in economic reforms in
    1978, farmers were scraping by. By 2005, income had increased sixfold
    after adjusting for inflation to $400 a year for those in the
    countryside and $1,275 for urban Chinese, according to China’s National
    Bureau of Statistics.”The Chinese don’t want war – the Chinese just
    want to trade their way to power,” said David Zweig, a professor at the
    Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. “In the past, if a
    state wanted to expand, it had to take territory. You don’t need to
    grab colonies any more. You just need to have competitive goods to
    trade.”If China stays on the same economic track, it would become the
    world’s largest economy in 2027, surpassing the United States,
    according to projections by Goldman, Sachs & Co., a Wall Street
    investment bank. And unlike Japan, which rose in the 1980s only to fade
    again, China still has a huge pool of workers to tap and an emerging
    middle class that is just starting to reach critical mass. Many
    development economists believe China still has 20 years of fairly high
    growth ahead.

    But the transition to a larger presence on the global stage comes with growing pains, for China and the rest of the world.
    Beijing plays an ever bigger role in the developing world, some Western
    countries fear it could undermine efforts to promote democracy. In its
    attempt to secure markets and win allies, China is stepping up
    development aid to Africa and Asia. Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged
    last year to double Chinese aid to Africa between 2006 and 2009,
    promising $3 billion in loans, $2 billion in export credits and a $5
    billion fund to encourage Chinese investment in Africa. China has also
    promised Cambodia a $600 million aid package and agreed to loan $500
    million to the Philippines for a rail project.But China also extends
    aid to states such as Myanmar, Zimbabwe and Sudan whose human rights
    records have lost them the support of the West. Actress Mia Farrow  has
    labeled next year’s Beijing Olympics – a point of pride for China – the
    “genocide Olympics” because of China’s support for Sudan, at a time
    when the West seeks to punish it for its military actions in Darfur.
    China buys two-thirds of Sudan’s oil output.”In some ways, it will be
    integrating us into a new international order in which democracy as
    we’ve known it or the right to open organized political activity is no
    longer considered the norm,” said James Mann, author of “The China
    Fantasy,” a book about China and the West.China is also facing some of
    the unease that powers before it have encountered. In Africa and Asia,
    some complain that massive China-funded infrastructure projects involve
    mostly Chinese workers and companies, rather than create jobs and
    wealth for the local population. And Moeletsi Mbeki, a political
    commentator and brother of South African President Thabo Mbeki, likens
    the trade of African resources for Chinese manufactured goods to former
    colonial arrangements.”This equation is not sustainable,” Mbeki said at
    a recent meeting of the African Development Bank in Shanghai. “Africa
    needs to preserve its natural resources to use in the future for its
    own industrialization.”The backlash is also coming on the consumer
    front, with Chinese goods earning a dubious reputation for quality. In
    the United States, there is a furor over the standard of Chinese
    imports. In Bolivia, vendors peel off or paint over any indication that
    their wares were “Hecho en China,” Spanish for “Made in China.”A woman
    selling bicycles in El Alto, a poor city outside the capital, La Paz,
    insisted they were made in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan or even India.
    With some prodding, she acknowledged the truth. “They’re all Chinese,”
    she said, declining to give her name lest it hurt her business. “But if
    I say they’re Chinese, they don’t sell.”Even those who benefit from
    China’s growth express some wariness. Aerospace giant Boeing expects
    China to be the largest market for commercial air travel outside the
    United States in the next 20 years, buying more than $100 billion worth
    of commercial aircraft, U.S. trade envoy Karan Bhatia said in a recent

    “Right now, we’re hiring every week,” noted Connie Kelliher, a union leader. “Things couldn’t be better.”
    Boeing workers remain wary of China’s ambitions to build its own
    planes. next year China plans to test-fly a locally made midsize jet
    seating 78 to 85 passengers. It also has announced plans to roll out a
    150-seat plane by 2020.”It’s kind of a double-edged sword,” Kelliher
    said. “You want the business and we want to get the airplane sales to
    them, but there’s the real concern of giving away so much technology
    that they start building their own.”That’s what happened to Western and
    Japanese automakers, which made inroads in the Chinese market only to
    see their designs copied and technologies stolen. Already, China’s
    vehicle manufacturers are venturing overseas, exporting 325,000 units
    last year – mostly low-priced trucks and buses to Asia, Africa and
    Latin America.”We’re taking a bigger piece of the pie,” said Yamilet
    Guevara, a sales manager for Cinascar Automotriz, which has opened 20
    showrooms in Venezuela in the past 18 months, offering cars from six
    Chinese makers. “They ask by name now. It’s no longer just the Chinese
    car. It’s the Tiggo, the QQ.”China’s biggest car company, Chery
    Automobile Co., just announced a deal with the Chrysler Group to
    jointly produce and export cars to Western Europe and the United States
    within 2 1/2 years.Given the speed of China’s ascent, it’s perhaps not
    surprising that China itself is trying to calm some of the fears. Its
    slogan for the Beijing Olympics: “Peacefully Rising China.”