This is a guest article by Indian journalist Brijender Mudgil
Carpets made in India
I start with an incident that happened in 1989, in India.
There is a place in central Uttar Pradesh, a state in India, financially rather poor, but well known for hand-made carpets and tapestries.
They export their products to Europe, but on the whole employ children between the ages of eight and 15 years on a part time basis.
The children learn a craft and can provide support and income to their families although it is illegal to employ kids in India, but it is more prevalent here in the north because of poverty and authorities that are used to ignoring it.
One day a Delhi based NGO lodged a formal complaint against the employers, impressed upon local authorities to arrest the employers, and claimed that they rescued many child labourers from bondage.
Factories were closed down.
Employers had to flee from their homes.
The news flashed across all the leading dailies in India.
The European countries that bought the carpets, including the UK, cancelled their orders on the plea that child labour was involved in the production of the carpets.
They refused to listen to the other side of the story, which was that kids used to work only three hours in the morning, and in the afternoon they used to go to their schools, as well as the fact that the entire population of that region was highly dependent on these handlooms.
The European countries remained stuck atop their moral high ground, and canceled the orders and shifted their requirements to Iran.
Iran reaped the benefits and suitably rewarded the NGO making the initial claim.
But when China opened its doors for international manufacturers, household names rushed over to do business with Beijing, to be the first to establish their plants, and enjoy free access to a huge, low-paid work force.
No pollution control taboos existed, no labor law compliance was followed, land was offered free of charge, tax breaks were the norm, and all sorts of ‘freedoms’ major companies could not even hope to dream of in their home countries were offered.
Market forces worldwide sang together to boost the image of China as the manufacturing hub of the world.
China very quickly shot-up the global rankings to number 31 of 190 in the rankings of ‘ease of doing business’.
The major US and European brands shifted their manufacturing bases to China to produce cheaper goods, and secure bigger margins on their established brands.
Labor intensive industries saw heavy foreign investment in China, and from the early 90s till today the world market has been flooded with relatively cheap Chinese made products with little or no thought given to moral and / or ethical issues at all.
Collective blind-eye to wrongs
Business communities around the world ceded values for profitability, and greed.
A news report appeared on labourers working for up to 13 hours a day in a factory making Reebok shoes, but nobody cared.
The world changed its stance on China, but China remained un-changed.
China has never regretted or atoned for its ruthless massacre of thousands of students demanding democracy in Tiananmen square in 1989, and even pretends nothing of the sort ever took place.
The Communist Party of China is still autocratic and ruthless.
The population of China have no automatic human or democratic rights.
China still persists with obscure justice practices, and a nationwide clamp down on freedom of information is still the norm in the country.
And now an almost free flow of international funds has further boosted the expansionist ambitions of China.
The money flowing in has turned an introvert serpent into a fuming dragon with ambitions to address the world on its own terms.
Collective action needed
If the world in its entirety does not unite in a bid to tame this monster we have created, then we should be prepared to face many more crises of different hues, that will eventually make the COVID-19 pandemic pale in comparison.
How can a country which does not care about the lives of its own citizens care about the rest of humanity?
Beijing not only deliberately concealed vital facts about COVID-19 from the get-go, but it also compromised international organizations such as the WHO, forcing officials there to toe their China-centric-line.
China even tried to export used trash in the form of N-95 masks, and PPE kits!
Meanwhile, the entire world ignored the long term harm in front of us for short term gains, but it is now time to take a deeper look at Chinese global intent.
During the ongoing international pandemic caused by COVID-19, China has tried to capture Indian territory in the Himalayan region.
China started hammering out its claims on islands belonging to Japan and the Philippines.
Beijing daily tries to invade the air space of Taiwan, and has issued repeated verbal warnings to the USA, Great Britain, Australia, and any other country which speaks against its aggression.
Alarming intel issues
And now, reports from several intelligence agencies are even more alarming.
China is now in the process of exploiting the liberal democratic systems of various nations in order to plant its own stooges in government roles, in local media and other administrative channels.
Large scale technological companies from China, remotely controlled by the Chinese Communist Party and CCP senior executives, are now stationed in various countries where they work as tools of the Chinese state government.
Ms. Meng, the daughter of the Chairman of Huawei Telecom, and number two in the company was arrested in Canada on reports of financial impropriety in December 2018.
She is a Canadian citizen and came to Canada using a Hong Kong passport, but, on the surface unconnected, in reality in retaliation, the Chinese government arrested two Canadian citizens in response.
One is a government official, the other a businessman.
These cases are ongoing, but are indicative of the issues the entire world is now having to rethink – if one day we will be able to come up with a joint strategy to deal with this monster.
If we do not, the international norms of liberty, human rights, and dignity are in jeopardy.