China and its risky foreign investment strategies

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The Chavez government nationalized or outright expropriated thousands of companies, and awarded contracts that used to go to these to Chinese companies who came with their own financing and often their own workers instead.

China may now be worried about the long term security of its relationship with Venezuela, what it needs to understand most is how its policies are propping up autocrats who over the course of time tend to fail and be replaced by political realities that may not look favorably upon how China assisted the unscrupulous.

China has to examine the ethical angle of its foreign policy, but it lacks the tradition to do so effectively. Expropriating vulnerable groups and citizens is part of Chinese political culture with thousands of known cases in China alone. If it’s ok to do so in China to Chinese then there is no reason not to do so elsewhere. China routinely structures deals with foreign corrupt autocrats that destroy local economies: Chinese banks finance Chinese companies who ship in Chinese workers; all that the locals need to do is move aside (often being literally evicted from their own land) while their leaders saddle them with interest payments. That of course is a not so friendly strategy.

The west often insists on democratic change, but this covers the whole gamut of accountable state institutions that are representative and can engage long term responsible international bonds. The EU and US both reward trade status to nations with better institutions. China ought to get on board too, it needs to also insist its partners set up accountable institutions or risk being tarred with the same brush as the imperialists of yesteryear.