China has an agenda, I think China has an agenda, beware of the Chinese agenda. These phrases and others like it are uttered by persons who are wary of interacting with China and are often used as a stockade form of defence to ward off persons who state that greater interaction with China would be beneficial to national development. This line of argument is so frequent that it has become monotonous, and drone-like in its repetitiveness but what does it really mean, and does it make sense in any logical way?
China has an agenda, is a phrase that began life within the US state department as a way to scare third world nations away from the mammoth Chinese investment which has been taking place for the past 20 years. We are told of debt traps, though to date no nation after 20 years has become a Chinese debtor client while nations continue to be held hostage to the US dollar. We are warned of severe trade imbalances and supply chain risks, though nary a word is mentioned about the domination of US exports and their ability to strangle nations at will. And we are even told that they are promoting an imperialist and colonialist agenda, even though again after 20 years of this talking point they have launched no wars conquered no peoples and colonized nowhere and have all of one external military base in Djibouti where the US, France and others were invited by the government and UN to deal with the Somali piracy, the US on the other hand in this period has launched countless wars and offensive actions to accompany its 800 overseas bases.
Now I repeat that China is not colonialist or imperialist, it is a socialist country practising its form of economic development led by the state which controls the commanding heights of the economy. China has an agenda it is true, and that is to build a communist society as constantly repeated by the Communist Party (something many are quick to dismiss but then they are ready to run with lies such as there being no Nazis in Ukraine and believe people who have been shown to have constantly lied since at least Iraq war 2), but every nation organisation, person, animal and plant on this earth has an agenda, so to simply say China has an agenda and leave it there is not enough. What is its agenda? What is the agenda of the other nations? And what has the implementation of this agenda looked like in material terms?
In a crass manner, most have the agenda to make money. The agenda is not the problem, how it is acted on, how it is achieved is the issue we need to be looking at. If a person works 9-5 making an honest living and money is made, the agenda is fulfilled with no issue. If the person however commits theft or runs drugs for their money, the agenda is also fulfilled money is made, but how it is achieved is an issue and a big one at that.
Staying with the crass metaphor, are the Chinese stealing or running drugs? Have they acted in the manner of the British, French, US, Canadians, and I will confine myself to just the last 20 years? What has the American agenda been if not to have other nations prostrate themselves before the US and act as third-class nations? What has the agenda of the EU and Britain been for this period particularly in the third world if not ensuring that these nations who they colonised remain in a perpetual state of doom and misery? They have sponsored wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, continually run drugs – in the literal sense – and trafficked arms thereby making our nations veritable warzones, sanctioned 1/3 of the world and made deals on such barbaric terms through middlemen such as the IMF and world bank that countries are stuck between chronic poverty and a failed state.
The Chinese agenda on the international scene has been obvious from day one, non-interference in other nations domestic affairs and making deals which both sides agree on. They have not, for example, insisted that we abandon our dairy industry to access their markets (something the US did), nor have they threatened to end any future dealings with us after they (China) purchased the white elephants that were the sugar estates and bauxite facilities. Are the deals one-sided at times? Yes, they are, but that then is the issue of the other government whose interest should solely be the upliftment of its citizens. If the GOJ decides to give away all oceanfront property for an interconnected rail system, the onus is on the Jamaican citizen to stop it and not China.
The prime example of how the agendas of these nations differ so greatly can be encapsulated in two projects which never got off the ground. Namely the botched port sale to China and the torpedoed Goat Island project. During the Bruce Golding administration, we were poised to sell the port to China. Following a call from the US secretary of state where threats were made about pulling funding from Jamaica the deal with China was ended and a French company won the bid. China continued and to this day continues to maintain relations up to and including economic with us following that incident. A few years ago, Goat Island was slated to be transformed into a logistics hub providing much-needed cash and jobs but greatly endangering the environment. Following national outcries, the GOJ relented and walked away from the deal, China again retains relations with us, and we have even got a shiny overpass in PSM square shortly after.
Do they want something in return? Sure, of course, they do, this is the way the world works. Does it irk persons that we are dealing with a possible hegemon as opposed to the broader third world? I am sure it does, it bothers me at times too, I would prefer more inter-regional trading and then moving from there to regional blocs engaging in trade. But in the present reality where we see countries literally sanctioned until they relent to US terms, where accessing IMF and World Bank loans demands destroying our social safety nets alongside subsidies and dollar protection thereby impoverishing the nation opening it up to the US and other imperial exploitation, what China offers doesn’t seem half bad.
Those of us who lived through the 90s and witnessed the wholesale decimation of our industrial and agricultural sectors as we followed the IMF dictate, saw our dollar go from 10-1 to almost 100-1 at the end of the decade and witnessed the largest exodus of its people since the violence of the 70s cannot with any honesty say that dealing with the US, the UK, EU or Canada has been beneficial for us. We have been continually abused, given one-sided deals and when we attempt to broach the idea of renegotiations we are shunned and threatened. China has its issues, dealing with the Bolsonaro government irks me for example, it will make deals with corrupt countries, but (and this is the difference between a rapist and someone consensually engaging in sex) the deal is always made by both parties with eyes wide open and with the ability to renegotiate the terms surrounding the deal (as seen with Zimbabwe, Greece and yes, Jamaica). The raw facts are in 20 years of interaction we have got more from China in real terms than we have ever received from the US etc. after 60 years of interaction as an independent state doing deals.
Every nation has an agenda, we have an agenda and therefore to discount a whole 1/7th of the planet because ‘they have an agenda’ is silly. What is the agenda? To build communism in China. How is it being acted out? By mutual deals and not by force. What are the agenda of the US and its acolytes? To retain the top dog status and continue the unipolar world. How is this implemented in the real world? Via sanctions, threats, and covert destabilization efforts. It is therefore strange to me that persons in the third world who decry the imperial actions of the US etc, people who openly laugh at and denounced the lies leading up to Iraq and Libya now believe these tales. The persons pushing this line have an agenda, we have seen it in its violent entirety, and we must not swallow this lie. Now the US cares about racism, now it is concerned about environmental issues and debt traps, and it is very convenient that these issues which are their concerns are aimed at China. We have been here before and know that the US ect do not have our interest at heart.
If we are worried about future potential, possible Chinese exploitation – an exploitation which I repeat we have no evidence of even after 20 years of this cry – then we must put in place leaders who have our interest at heart, but as of 2021 we have not seen anywhere in the world China act in an aggressive illegal or imperial manner, we may not like communism, but these are the facts. If we want development, we must look to the places that can develop us, this is China and therefore we must bite the bullet and accept that they have an agenda and work with it or remain with the US agenda and stay poor with no hope of escape.