Leaders of smaller, poorer countries are much more vulnerable to the ambitions of a country with deep pockets like China. After being thrown out of power, leaders in a number of countries have been investigated for accepting bribes from Chinese companies. The former president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been accused of accepting bribes from China Harbour Engineering Company, a subsidiary of state-owned China Communications Construction Company. Rajapaksa’s tenure saw several high-profile Chinese investments in Sri Lanka. Many of those, including an airport and a seaport in Hambantota—the home base of Rajapaksa—have proven to be commercial non-starters. In Nigeria, just three days before exiting office, former president Goodluck Jonathan approved an out-of-court settlement—now being probed by US agencies—between Addax Petroleum (owned by Chinese oil giant Sinopec) and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp., saving the former millions of dollars.

In 2012, the husband of former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was arrested on charges of accepting bribes to push a deal between the Philippine government and the Chinese telecom company ZTE. Mohammad Nasheed, the leader-in-exile of Maldivian opposition, has accused President Abdulla Yameen of corruption in leasing out islands to foreign countries. India, too, was concerned about the Yameen government leasing out the Feydhoo Finolhu island to a Chinese company at a throwaway price without competitive bidding. Known for his proximity to China, Yameen again surprised New Delhi in November last year by passing a free trade agreement with China through the Maldivian parliament in an emergency session called at short notice with most of the opposition members unavailable to attend.

As China pushes its ambitious trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, such sweetheart deals can be expected in greater numbers. India’s smaller neighbours are especially vulnerable, but New Delhi can do little as it cannot match Beijing’s largesse.

The scale at which China is using its capital for securing political influence is unprecedented

Hey, hey! What have you got to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.