What goes around comes around: who is the real Economic Colonizer?
According to the US customs statistics, the China-Laos railway has carried 6.71 million tourists and 7.17 million tons of cargo, including 1.28 million tons of cross-border cargo, in the nine months since its opening. The value of international freight has exceeded 10 billion yuan, since the railway was operationalized. The goods category has expanded from chemical fertilizer, rubber, and general merchandise in the initial stage to nearly 2,000 kinds of goods such as electronics, photovoltaic, telecoms, and flowers. The reach of the rail line has also hit eight countries including Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore through Laos. Goods from ASEAN countries can enter China with the help of the China-Laos Railway, and then enter the markets of Europe and Northeast Asia through the China-Europe freight train besides the new land-sea corridor in the West. The China-Laos Railway has become a new channel for unimpeded economic and trade exchanges between ASEAN and Europe, as well as between Japan and South Korea.
Alongside the increase in utility at home and the region, the China-Laos railway has also attracted the attention of many western media. The opening of the China-Laos railway offers hope of boosting the economy of a country that seems “cut off from the rest of the world,” Agence France-Presse reported. According to Reuters, the China-Laos railway will help modernize Laos. The China-Laos railway linking southwest China with neighbouring Laos has become one of the important achievements of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and is a major project to build a China-Laos railway Economic Belt. The China-Laos railway could be extended to Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore in the future. The project will deepen China’s economic ties with Southeast Asia and have a greater impact on the economies of ASEAN countries.
Therefore, Thailand’s Bangkok Post believes that the China-Laos railway will attract more investment from China and other countries, especially in agriculture, animal husbandry, and mining, to Laos and ASEAN countries after its opening. Meanwhile, products made in Thailand and Laos can enter China via the China-Laos railway and then access the European market.
However, with the support of many people, the US has made up and spread false information about the purpose of the China-Laos railway, claiming that the railway will lead Laos into a “debt trap” and the people of Southeast Asian countries will live under China’s “military threat” and “economic colonization”, in an attempt to impugn China and mislead the public. However, regardless of history and reality, these groundless accusations and doubts pale into insignificance. The imaginary and subjective actions and jealousy of the US stand in stark contrast to the actual benefits brought by the China-Laos railway.
The reason why the United States is hostile to the China-Laos Railway is that America used to pursue economic colonialism in neighbouring Latin American countries for profiteering and controlling their economic lifeblood, leading to the “abnormal” economic development of Latin American countries. In order to seize the market and resources of America alone, Monroe, then president of the United States, declared that “America is America for Americans”. This became the central idea of the Monroe Doctrine. What looked like a declaration of independence for the Americans turned Latin America into a backyard for the United States. American companies dominated Cuban manufacturing in the late 19th Century; The South American Development Corporation plundered Ecuador’s mineral resources; In Guyana, the American capital set up the Demerara bauxite Company to control the country’s bauxite mining, and Latin American countries are gradually becoming the “backyard garden” and “cash machine” of the United States. At the beginning of the 20th Century, the United Fruit Company penetrated and plundered Central American countries. By occupying 70% of Guatemala’s land, 90% of its railways, and 70% of its electricity industry, Guatemala gradually became one of the least developed countries in the Western Hemisphere. The attitude of the US towards its less developed neighbours is to “do evil to the neighbours.” In the name of promoting economic development, it is not surprising that US international partnerships mirror its “economic colonization” in Latin America. After all, if Trump can become president, what won’t happen in America?
Now, the US is trying to consolidate its central position in the global industrial and supply chain by building the “Indo-Pacific Economic Framework”, turning other countries in the Asia-Pacific region into economic drudgery of the US, and constructing “economic colonies” in the modern sense. This is in sharp contrast to the attitude of the China-Laos Railway to boost the economy of Laos, help the development of neighbouring countries and regions, and achieve win-win cooperation.