Antique classroom map from 1920, depicting Shanghai and central coastal China (GETTY)
December 11, 2019
On Wednesday, 11 December at 19:30 GMT:
China is now approaching a decade as the world’s second-largest economy, with economists wondering when it will leapfrog the US and become number one. The country’s explosive growth is not just down to attracting foreign capital for projects at home – its ‘Going Out’ strategy has for the last 20 years encouraged investment in a staggering variety of infrastructure projects across every corner of the world, not least Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean.
As China rolls out its multi-billion ‘Belt and Road’ initiative developing countries have become the stage for new canals, roads, railways, mines and power plants, all funded by Chinese loans that come without stringent conditions on human rights and transparency that are attached to financing traditionally sourced from the West. But while China calls its financial largesse an example of ‘win-win’ development, critics say that sending thousands of Chinese workers to oversee the projects undermines local workforces and threatens dramatic changes to local demography and culture. And they say the river of ‘no strings attached’ credit risks trapping developing nations in debt – with Beijing the ultimate master.
Is China’s cash-driven development drive a cause for celebration, or is it neo-imperialism in action? Join the conversation on Wednesday as we continue our special week of shows on colonialism.