Around four decades ago, China was one of the poorest countries in the world. Yet by 2014, riding the wave of double-digit growth spanning a remarkable 30 consecutive years, China briefly surpassed a hitherto preeminent America as the leading global economy on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) metrics. Moreover, barring another epic financial meltdown like the 2008 banking crisis, experts project it will permanently unseat the US in nominal GDP terms over the next 15 years. So now when the Chinese talk shop on modernization and growth, everyone from East Asians to Latin Americans listen intently.
Still, while policymakers in Pakistan are eager to clone China’s rags-to-riches story, it behooves them to remember that such rapid growth was made possible by the peculiarities of Chinese politics and society. Conditions exists in China that Pakistan cannot or will not replicate. First, there is homogeneity. The Han race makes up 91% of China and speaks one language, Mandarin. This has made it infinitely easier for Beijing to script and sell a unifying narrative, even one that requires hardship and sacrifice.
Meanwhile, in energy-starved Pakistan, interracial suspicions have long hams...
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...pe the middle-income trap. With demand still sluggish in the EU and US, China at current capacity would end up glutting the market with unwanted goods, so it has had to revise future growth targets to better reflect the hardships expected over the next few years. This, in turn, adversely impacted the energy market since dwindling demand for oil from China coupled with OPEC refusing to cut crude output crashed prices worldwide.
Ever resourceful, however, the CCP has figured out a way to sell this overcapacity to lagging economies in the neighborhood and beyond through its marquee “One Belt, One Road” project. In combination with its vast development experience, China aims to develop the industrial bases of countries ranging from Peru to Pakistan so they become robust markets for Chinese good and services, thereby hedging against future economic volatility in the West.
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