The Chinese offer of a helping hand

By Dawood Auleear

We used to boast that we were the first country to have recognised The People’s Republic of China when it was made into a pariah state until one Chinese Ambassador politely set the record straight: a continental African country had preceded us. Anyway, SSR had this fine quality of simultaneously and successfully befriending both Taiwan and Beijing.  Could SSR have read the future? His vision has paid dividends as we have benefitted from Chinese generosity:  the Flacq hospital, the Anjalay stadium, the MBC building and the jewel in the crown, the FTA despite Mauritian unwillingness to join the BRI. Countries on all continents have either joined or are queuing up to join the BRI which has already invested over a trillion USD and counting in infrastructural projects. Political pundits are foreseeing a totally different world which would be bipolar or most likely multipolar for the greater good of the third world especially. The monetary system would be totally overhauled with no single one serving as reserve deposits and countries can trade in their own currencies.

It surpasses the common man understanding as to why China is so generous. Take Pakistan, for instance, where China has invested USD60 billion in roads, railways, ports and green energy and in the process, has created 2.3m jobs and added 2.5 percentage points to annual economic growth. The industrial sector of Pakistan has seen investment in food processing, cooking oil, ceramics, gems and jewellery, marble, minerals, agriculture, machinery, iron and steel, motor bike assembly, electrical appliances and automobiles. Without this Chinese largesse, this failed state would have been a basket case and in its wildest dreams could not have thought of partnering with China in lunar exploration.

Despite scarcity of natural resources here, we have managed to offer our citizens a decent standard of living and we need visionaries to steer our foreign relations and manage our economy and our geography to keep our population happy. We have known an excision of our already small territory which is being used as a military base with all the concomitant dangers to our very existence.

Although much opacity surrounds our offer to India of another of our islands, we should not be afraid of India which has a long history as a peaceful nation and our all-weather friend. But the tectonic plates in the Indian Ocean, as in many other places, are moving quite rapidly. There is a frantic race by superpowers to occupy every inch to safeguard their interests, whatever that means. This competition is fraught with danger and belligerence. India may be tempted to convert our island into a military base if felt threatened and in a desperate situation uses it to launch a defence exercise.

We hope and pray that we do not arrive at such a juncture as it would be doomsday for us and the Indian Ocean countries. We know that QUAD has been created to contain China. What would happen if there is a war between China and QUAD? What if QUAD use both our islands to launch an attack on China? China would do to us what it has done to Japan, warning Japan that in case its territory is used as a launching pad for an attack on Taiwan, Japan would be considered a belligerent nation and could expect retaliation.

Serenity is required from our leaders so that our territory does not turn into a sword hanging over our head. Let us maintain a friendly relationship with all countries and especially with those that have been friends in difficult times. Let us not be part of a dangerous game, heeding the African wisdom that when elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled upon. The Chinese elephant is offering us its back, let us ride on it and enjoy the panorama from this vantage point and let us be part of BRI, actualize the FTA and proceed to a successful destiny.