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Friday, January 19, 2018

Pakistan and China's debt trap diplomacy

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By making foreign countries financially dependent on China, debt trap diplomacy has proven effective in allowing Beijing to achieve multiple objectives simultaneously through purely economic means. These include creating markets for its cheap exports, gaining access to invaluable natural resources, ensuring support for its geostrategic interests from borrower nations, and garnering a competitive advantage over its rivals, chief among them, India and the US.

Bring to mind the adage 'there's no such thing a s a free lunch'. Sometimes, we need to exercise caution when making the descision to accept help from someone. Sometimes, foreign aid comes with strings attached, which may not be favourable to the recipient country in the long run. The history of Western imperialism is a good example of this, where Western powers made inroads into its colonies in Africa, India and Southeast Asia on the 'pretext' of 'the White Man's burden', only to exploit the natives, the repercussions of which are still felt today. Hence, beware the angel who may be the devil in disguise! This was why during the Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar in 2008, the Burmese govt refused to allow international aid organizations into Myanmar to help the local victims, out of the fear that the humanitarian aid-givers will use that as a pretext to meddle with domestic politics to push for greater democracy in the country.

But for the aid-giving/ donor country/organization, providing aid to countries in need is one way to extend one's influence, as seen in the cas ehere of China. Similar acts by MNCs can also generate goodwill for its brand or lend it a foothold in the domestic market of the country they are giving aid to...

1. Does the presence of a foreign power ever help a country with problems? (Cam. 2008)
2. Consider the view that foreign intervention in a country’s affairs does more harm than good. (JJC Prelim 2017)
3. Is there still a place for charity in today’s world? (Cam. 2006)