• The coronavirus has so damaged market linkages market that an aeroplane that recently landed from South China at JKIA, led to a public outcry.
• The effect of the shortage of raw materials and supplies from China to Kenya and other destinations are starting to hurt and this will undermine both the Chinese economy and its trading partners, including Kenya.
By now, every Kenyan is aware of the imminent danger of the coronavirus scientifically known as COVID-19.
There are two reasons. First the threat of this respiratory disease just like HIV-Aids to kill millions of people is reason for global concern. The virus has caused a lot of stigma and discrimination against the Chinese people globally, and this spreads faster than the disease itself. A viral video depicts some Kenyans openly asking two Chinese whether they have coronavirus. What ensues is a confrontation that almost turns physical, a clear illustration of what we are grappling with.
Second, due to the rapid growth and linkages in global trade with many countries including Kenya, China has distinguished itself as the world’s factory. Nowadays, almost everything is manufactured in China, all the way from toothbrushes to the supercomputer with a peed of 31 petaflops per second (million/billion.) Through its well-laid-out strategy known as the Belt and Silk Road initiative, China has had a deliberate plan to increase trade relations by fostering political ties and connectivity through the use of roads and railways linkages that cut across many countries and continents.
The aim is to leverage this as a means of accelerating access to markets for Chinese goods and products while at the same time opening up pathways to access raw materials for processing. The South China sea has been a critical naval base installation for Americans for two reasons. First are the frosty relations between China and its neighbours due to the many islands, whose territory is in contention, but secondly due to the pivotal role that the area plays in terms of being a critical sea route in global trade. America, being the superpower, has monopolised the installation of naval bases across the major sea routes around the international waters. This was done at the expense of its own local development. In fact, as the US was busy policing the world, China planned and executed a successful economic take-off.
Currently, China is the second-biggest economy globally estimated at $10 trillion. This is almost a miracle looking at where the country was in 1978. Then, there was food rationing and one was supposed to consume meat at 250gm a month, 1.5m of cloth per year, two cigarette packets per month; cereals were limited to 500gm for men and 400gm for women per month. When
Deng Xiaoping took over, he turned around the economy from a purely communist economy under Mao Zedong. He argued that “it doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches the mice."
Since then, China has been on a rapid rise economically, lifting 500 million of its 1.4 billion people out of poverty. Anchoring its political-ideological shift from socialism to a socialist market economy, coupled with the stability of the 70-year reign of the Communist Party of China (CPC), this new thinking correctly assesses that democratic socialism as practised in the West only helps in the fair distribution of resources by government but doesn’t stimulate economic production.
China has shifted to what it calls scientific socialism that underpins social norms that drive market productivity. This combined with scientific development has led to the development of a socialist market economy that combines the best of both the left and the right to create a third-way political ideology.
Consequently, the country now has had exponential growth of 12.5 per cent per annum from 2014 to 2018 and had a per capita income of $9,732 in 2018. It controls more than 15 per cent of the total global trade and has more than 20 million private enterprises.
More than 60 per cent of its population lives in urban areas and 59.9 per cent of all its cars are electric. Beijing alone has six million cars and there is a serious car rationing programme in place. The country has 130,000km of highway and 98 per cent of all villages are linked to the road network.
Farmers sell their products online and there are 30,000km of high-speed railways. The country is currently constructing its own space navigation system including a spacecraft and space capsule. There is, therefore, no doubt that going by its speed of development China will soon overtake the US economically.
The coronavirus has greatly damaged market linkages that an aeroplane that landed from South China recently at JKIA, led to a public outcry. The effect of the shortage of supplies from China to Kenya and other destinations is starting to hurt and this will greatly undermine both the Chinese economy and its trading partners including Kenya.
It will, therefore, take a long time to recover and this leads to the big question as to whether the coronavirus is not a biological weapon aimed at achieving economic outcomes in terms of slowing down China in order to maintain the current economic ranking and therefore global power.