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About A Week: China On The March

China seems to be heading for supremacy in commerce and sport, Peter Hinchliffe suggests.

I’ve just bought a couple of T-shirts, on sale for $6 apiece.

An inspection of their labels reveals the expected information: Made in China.

China now clothes the Western world with garments offered at irresistibly low prices. While doing so they are snapping up vital bargains in South America and Africa.

Bargains such as 15,000 ft Mount Toromocho, 86 miles north of Lima, the capital of Peru. The mountain, whose name signifies its shape, The Bull With No Horns, contains an estimated two billion tonnes of copper.

A Chinese company will begin open casting on the site in three or four years, turning Toromocho into the world’s biggest copper mine.

Copper can be produced there for an estimated $400 a tonne. On the world market copper is currently selling for more than $8,000 a tonne.

China is accumulating huge wealth from selling its goods to the West. Its factories are gobbling up minerals at an unprecedented rate. Accumulated trade dollars are being shrewdly spent on acquiring mineral mining rights in Africa as well as South America.

Chinese trade with Africa has been growing by 50 per cent year on year. Currently it is running at $50 billion a year. Two years from now China will have overtaken the United States and France as Africa’s biggest trading partner.

A country’s poor human rights record is not allowed to interfere with business. If you have raw materials to sell, China will buy them from you.

Columnist Christopher Booker wrote in yesterday’s leading UK newspaper The Sunday Telegraph:

“It may not be surprising that, as befits any mad dictator, President Mugabe is now the proud owner of a palatial £4.5 million mansion in Harare and a similarly lavish country hideaway, each fitted with the latest electronic security systems, including anti-aircraft missiles.

But why should all this have been provided for him by the People's Republic of China?

The explanation lies in a deal struck in 2005 whereby Mr Mugabe handed over to China his country's mineral rights, including the world's second largest reserves of platinum, worth £250 billion.’’

This month China began the immense task of rebuilding more than 2,000 miles of roads in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, left to rot for decades. This is part of a $9 billion dollar deal signed early this year which gives the Chinese mineral rights for carrying out improvements in the Congo.

Other improvements will include railway repairs, new hospitals and health centres, a couple of dams and two airports.

China now has the rights to mine copper and cobalt in some of the world’s richest deposits of these minerals.

Today’s soaring oil prices are driven by China’s need to fuel its industries. China is now the second largest consumer of oil after the USA, and its oil needs increase day on day.

Last year the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez announced plans to increase oil exports to China tenfold over the next five years, with the expectation that China will invest in the nation’s oil infrastructure, particularly in developing the reserves of the Orinoco Belt. The heavy tar-like reserves, which require special technology to extract, amount to about 20 percent of the global oil supply.

Suffering heavy blows from cripplingly high oil prices and soaring food prices Western economies are sliding towards the crevice of a full-blown recession.

Of course China’s wealth derives from the goods it manufactures and sells to the rest of the world. However, with millions of its own citizens eager to own refrigerators, motor cycles, cars, and much more besides, there is still scope for its factories to remain busy while the rest of the world sweats through recessional flu.

Will China become a superpower? Many would say they have already reached that status. They have the world's biggest army, nearly twice the size of that of the United States. It has the second biggest navy, equipped with nuclear subs.

For comparison, Britain has the 10th largest navy, and is in 25th place in the army league table.

China is also forging ahead in other fields besides business and manufacturing. It has been predicted that by 2025 the number of English–speaking Chinese is likely to exceed the number of native English speakers in the rest of the world.

That prediction was made three years ago by the UK’s Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, then finance minister.

China intends to show off its dazzling progress when the Olympic Games open in Beijing sixteen days from now (August 6). Their athletes will be striving to top the medals table, consigning America to second place.

China boycotted the Games in the 1960s and 1970s because the International Olympic Committee allowed Taiwan to be a member. At the last Games in Athens China was in second place to the USA, with 32 golds compared to 36.

Coaches have been brought in from other countries to train Chinese athletes. Money has been pumped into training them in such sports as archery and shooting.

The US may still have a huge lead over China in armaments, but the Chinese possess the know-how, and huge spending on military hardware is closing the gap.

The prediction is that with 30 years China will be wealthier than the USA.

FOOTNOTE

On Saturday this week Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones rock band, celebrates his 65th birthday.

Perhaps US politicians and businessmen, ruefully aware of China’s successful long-term minerals extraction contracts, might on Saturday reflect on the words of a Stones song:

“You can’t always get what you want.’’


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