State Capitalism: Fortune 500 and Chinese Companies
Authors: Tridivesh Singh Maini and Mahitha Lingala*
Fortune Magazine’s Global 500 list is noteworthy. For the first time, the number of Chinese companies in the list (119) nearly equals that of the US (121). If one were to add companies from Taiwan (10), the number of Chinese companies (129) comfortably surpasses that of China.
It would be pertinent to point out however, that the revenue of Chinese companies counts for a little over 25% (25.6%) of the 500 companies as opposed to that of the US which accounts for 28.8%.
In the top 5, there are three Chinese companies (all state owned); Sinopec group (ranked number 2), China National Petroleum (ranked number 4) and State Grid ranked number 5). The percentage of State Owned Enterprises in the list has risen from last year (over 80% in 2019 from 76.3% last year).
A number of Chinese banks like the Industrial and Commercial bank of China, followed by China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China were also on the list.
This list, once again reiterates the point, that China’s growth has been largely propelled by a model of ‘State Capitalism’, where state run enterprises have helped China increase its clout globally.
In recent years however, a large number of private enterprises have also emerged like Ali Baba, Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, Dashang Group, Ping An and legend holdings have emerged.
Ping An which is a tech giant as well which feeds its data algorithms with data harvested from its close to 200 million customers stood at the 29th place on the list with an annual revenue of $163.5 Billion.Huawei telecom jumped 11 spots from last year and was at 61st place,with revenue estimated at$ 109.03 Billion.Ali Baba witnessed fastest growth jumping 118 spots and was ranked at 182.
State Capitalism vs the model of liberal democracies
State Capitalism has been one of China’s major successes, because the Chinese government has no ambiguity in backing mega projects of its enterprises overseas like Twyford factory in the Kenyan Capital, Sunshine group’s mining activities in Tanzania, and many more infrastructural projects in the African Continent and other parts of the world. One of the most important investments is that of the Chinese Export-Import Bank provided 85 percent of the funding for the $475 million Addis Ababa Light Rail.
It would be important to point out, that even private companies, a prominent example being Huawei, are not free from Chinese interference. Australia has banned Huawei from rolling out 5G network. Trump who has dubbed Huawei as a national security threat had imposed a ‘government blacklist’. Recently, while trying to relax some of the restrictions, the US did state that Huawei was still on the entity list and would need a US government license to buy American technology.
Economic growth in democracies on the other hand is not solely dependent upon state enterprises. The number 1 company on the Fortune 500 list is Walmart. If one were to look at the case of Indian companies which are there on the list, there are two private sector companies while the rest are PSU’s. While Reliance is ranked at 99. Oil & Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) a PSU ranks 160, State Bank of India (SBI), Tata Motors, Bharat Petroleum Corp Ltd (BPCL) ranked 275 and Rajesh Exports a private sector company is ranked at 495.
How Chinese companies are benefitting from BRI
A number of Chinese companies (a prominent example being shipping giant COSCO) are seeking to benefit through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) .
Beijing has injected massive amounts of capital into Chinese public financial institutions, which make borrowing costs very low as their bonds are treated like Chinese government debt, allowing them to lend cheaply to Chinese companies working on BRI projects. This enables the Chinese companies to outbid their counterparts to due to the inexpensive availability of funds. China’s state owned enterprises that suffered a drought for a while, due to the slowing of the domestic market, are getting a push due to BRI as they are now investing in over-sees infrastructural projects. Most of the BRI initiatives have thus far been implemented by Chinese Companies. Right now, 89% of BRI projects have been implemented by Chinese companies, with the main beneficiaries being construction and infrastructure sector companies.
Another Chinese Industry to gain from BRI, is the tech export industry. For example , Haier Electronics which is a Chinese appliance manufacturer has built six industrial parks in BRI countries.
Projects that initially started as merely China funded projects, they were later on leased or taken over by Chinese Companies, one such project is the Hambantota port. The port was built with 85% funding from the EXIM Bank of China, but in 2016, 80% of it was leased to a Chinese company called China Merchants Ports holding company (CMPort) for debt for equity swap.
Indo-Pacific and private sector
While US, Japan, India and Australia have been speaking about an alternative vision to the BRI , through the FOIP (Free and Open Indo Pacific). One of the distinguishing factors of the FOIP can be greater participation by Private players from these countries in connectivity and infrastructure projects.
The Trump administration has been supporting a greater role for the private sector in FOIP related connectivity initiatives.
Commenting on US involvement in the Indo-Pacific, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had stated:‘….. We want these to be commercially available projects led by the American private sector in a way that benefits the entire region and the world,”
The US Secretary of State during an address at the US Chamber of Commerce while outlining the US vision for the Indo-Pacific (which included 113 Million USD for areas such as Digital Economy, Energy and Infrastructure as well as ) while highlighting the important role of the private sector in the Indo-Pacific stated that US private companies.
The BUILD (Better Utilization of Investment leading to Development) act which received bipartisan support in the US Senate as well as House of Representatives, has helped in creating a new agency the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) to replace the earlier Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Corporation) which encouraged private companies to invest in Africa. USIDFC is different in a number of ways first its budget is 60 Billion USD as opposed to the earlier 29 Billion allocated for OPIC. Second, it can make deals and provide loans in local currency which makes it more attractive.
The Fortune 500 list brings to the fore many points, one of them being that liberal democracies such as US, Japan, Australia and India, need to come up with an alternative model to that of China’s State Capitalism. While the FOIP has lacked clarity, one area where it can improve is to come up with clear aims and objectives beyond countering China (the BUILD act is a positive step in this direction). This will also help counter ambiguity surrounding the versions of Japan and US’s FOIP versions. A first step could be roping in private players from US, Japan, India and Australia into infrastructural and connectivity projects and not merely depending on governments.
*Mahitha Lingala is a student at The Jindal School of International Affairs, OP Jindal Global University, Sonipat, India
Promoting Economic Security: Enhancing Stability and Well-being
The stability and well-being of people, communities, and countries are critically dependent on economic security. It covers a range of topics, such as access to necessities, work opportunities, stable incomes, and defense against economic shocks. The need of guaranteeing economic security has increased significantly in the modern world, which is characterized by technical developments, geopolitical shifts, and unexpected disasters. The importance of economic security is examined in this article, along with important tactics for promoting adaptability and preserving people’s quality of life.
The value of economic security to individuals, communities, and countries cannot be overstated. By fostering an atmosphere where people and families can achieve their basic needs without suffering undue stress, it promotes stability. Because of this stability, people can recuperate and start over after severe shocks like economic downturns, natural disasters, or health crises.
Furthermore, economic security contributes to social cohesion by reducing inequality and fostering inclusivity. When individuals feel economically secure, they are more likely to actively participate in society, contribute to their communities, and engage in productive endeavors. This sense of security leads to greater social harmony and a collective feeling of prosperity.
Moreover, economic security is vital for long-term sustainable development. It enables individuals and societies to invest in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and innovation. These investments drive economic growth, improve overall well-being, and create the foundation for a prosperous future. By ensuring economic security, countries can build resilient and sustainable economies that benefit their citizens and contribute to global progress.
To enhance economic security, several key strategies can be implemented. Firstly, governments and businesses should prioritize diversifying their economies by promoting sectors with growth potential and resilience. By reducing reliance on a single industry or market, countries can mitigate the impact of economic downturns and build a more robust and diversified economy.
Investing in education and skills development is another crucial strategy. Governments and organizations must focus on providing quality education, vocational training, and lifelong learning opportunities. Equipping individuals with the necessary tools and knowledge enables them to adapt to changing economic landscapes and remain competitive in the job market.
Strong social safety nets are necessary to protect people during times of economic upheaval. The most disadvantaged populations should be given priority in the design and implementation of comprehensive social welfare systems by the government. Creating a safety net for all citizens entails implementing programs for income support, healthcare coverage, and unemployment benefits.
Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation can create new opportunities for economic growth and job creation. Governments can support aspiring entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, mentorship programs, and favorable regulatory environments. Embracing technological advancements and fostering a culture of innovation further enhances economic security, particularly in an increasingly digital world.
International cooperation is essential since economic security is a global issue. Cooperation between nations is necessary to advance ethical business practices, lessen economic inequality, and improve financial stability. Initiating discourse, coordinating policy, and assisting nations in economic crises are all important functions of multilateral organizations.
Societies can improve their economic security and create a more secure and prosperous future by putting these strategies into practice: diversifying the economy, investing in education and skills, creating social safety nets, encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation, and fostering international cooperation.
Having economic security is crucial in a world that is uncertain and changing quickly. Governments, corporations, and individuals may all work together to create an environment that promotes economic security by putting a priority on stability, resilience, and inclusivity. We can create a more resilient and prosperous future for everybody through diversity, education, social safety nets, entrepreneurship, and international cooperation. By making investments in financial stability, we build a more just and sustainable world.
The Impact of Globalization on the South Asian Economy
Globalization refers to the process by which economies, societies, and cultures from different countries become integrated with one another. The economies of the countries that make up South-East Asia, which include India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, have been significantly impacted by the spread of globalization in recent decades. The effects of globalization on the economies of South Asian countries have been mixed, with some positive and some negative results.
Positive Impacts of Globalization on the South Asian Economy
The expansion of South-East Asia’s trade and investment opportunities is one of the aspects of globalization that has had the most positive impact on the region’s economy. Because of its large consumer base, low labor costs, and strategic location, the region has become an attractive destination for foreign investors. As a consequence of this, the level of foreign direct investment (FDI) in South Asia has significantly increased, which has led to the development of new industries and the production of new jobs.
The expansion of the service industry in Sout-East Asia can also be attributed to the effects of globalization. South Asian countries have emerged as a hub for the outsourcing of services such as information technology (IT) and business process outsourcing as a result of the emergence of new technologies and the increased availability of skilled labor (BPO). As a direct consequence of this, the area has benefited from an increase in both the number of available jobs and the amount of money it brings.
Last but not least, globalization has facilitated greater cultural interaction and integration throughout South-East Asia. The region possesses a significant cultural legacy, and the advent of globalization has made it possible for South Asian music, films, and cuisine to become popular all over the world. This has not only contributed to a greater awareness of the region’s cultural heritage, but it has also opened up new doors for the travel and hospitality industry.
Negative Impacts of Globalization on the South-East Asian Economy
Even though there have been some positive effects, there have also been some negative effects that globalization has had on the South Asian economy. The widening gap between rich and poor is one of the most pressing problems that we face today. The advantages brought about by globalization have accrued almost entirely to a relatively small number of people, which has contributed to a widening income gap. As a consequence of this, social unrest and a wider gap in incomes have emerged.
Another significant obstacle that has been presented is the displacement of workers and traditional industries. Due to the effects of globalization, many smaller businesses have been forced to shut down, and their employees have been relocated to larger companies that are more productive. As a consequence of this, there has been an increase in unemployment as well as social unrest, particularly in rural areas.
Globalization has contributed to the deterioration of the environment in South Asia. The region has seen a growth in industries such as the textile industry, both of which have had a significant impact on the environment as a result of their expansion. The population’s health and well-being have suffered as a direct result of environmental degradation, which can be traced back to the increased consumption of natural resources and the improper disposal of waste produced by industrial processes.
The economy of the South-East Asian region has been affected in both positive and negative ways by the phenomenon of globalization. While it has resulted in the growth of industries and increased cultural exchange, it has also resulted in the displacement of workers and the widening of income inequality. While it has contributed to the growth of industries and increased cultural exchange, it has also resulted in the displacement of workers. In order to address these challenges, policy interventions that foster inclusive growth, protect the environment, and create new opportunities for the population will be required. By acting in this manner, countries in South Asia will be able to take advantage of globalization’s positive aspects while mitigating some of its more damaging effects.
Defaulting on Collateralised Chinese Loans, Ghana Will Loose its State Properties
After several negotiations, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has finally granted approval for a Special Drawing Rights of 2.242 billion, equivalent to $3 billion, to the Republic of Ghana. Its democracy and economic development down the years have been considered as model for Africa, but surprisingly under the current administration headed by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, due to gross mismanagement and inappropriate use of budgetary funds have created deep economic crisis. The government has consistently blamed Covid-19 and Russia-Ukraine crisis for its economic predicament.
As part of the IMF deal, committed to implementing a number of post-pandemic programmes to build resilience and lay the foundation for stronger economic growth, including “an ambitious structural reform agenda” to reinvigorate private sector-led growth by “improving the business environment, governance and productivity.”
Historically the Government of Ghana has contracted various loans from People’s Republic of China (PRC) purposely to undertake various projects, since it took over political administration from the sustainable economic development committed National Democratic Congress (NDC), as President of the Republic Ghana in 2017. As world-wide business rules, it offered its part of its resources as collateral security, failure to repay contracted loans requires seizure of the property.
Reports have now emerged May 23, making authentic reference to the IMF that China would take over Ghana’s mineral revenue and electricity sales in default of four (4) loans. The report by the IMF on Ghana’s external debts shows that should Ghana fail to honour obligations under the loan agreement with China, it could lose revenue from its mineral resource and electricity sales.
Details of Ghana’s collateralised loans from China show that the Asian country could have the right to use proceeds from Ghana’s oil, cocoa, bauxite or even the sales from electricity to settle the debt China owns about two-thirds of all of Ghana’s external loans, making the Asian superpower an important party in discussions about Ghana’s loans.
The IMF has published details on Ghana’s four collateralised Chinese loans in a report compiled in connection with the $3 billion bailout programme. The report shows that should Ghana fail to honour obligations under the loan agreement with the Asian economic superpower, it could lose revenue from its mineral resource and electricity sales.
According to the report by Joy News, in about 20 years, Ghana has borrowed close to $5 billion from, at least, 41 Chinese loan facilities. Per data released by the IMF, China would also have the right to use proceeds from Ghana’s oil, cocoa, bauxite or even the sales from electricity to settle the debt. This is because Ghana contracted the loans by collateralising some eight national assets. Ghana owes China $1.9 billion, but $619 million of this amount is collateralised.
An outspoken TV personality Captain Smart predicted that Ghana could lose some critical national assets to China over a huge debt to the Asian country. The outspoken journalist mentioned the Tema Harbour, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Kotoka International Airport (KIA) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) as the likely assets that Ghana could lose. It owes China billions of dollars, which represents about a third of all its foreign debts. Captain Smart of Onua TV said a similar takeover of national assets by China has occurred in Uganda, Zambia and Sri Lanka.
In another media report monitored by this author, Finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta has visited China for debt support talks. He said, at the time, that the visit to China was important because amid Ghana’s financial and economic challenges, China represents about a third of the $5.7 billion Ghana owes externally. The loans granted by the IMF, $600 million represents the first disbursement out of the $3 billion loan hit the accounts of the Bank of Ghana last week.
In any case, there are a few important facts President Nana Akufo-Addo has said about IMF bailout. Monitoring media reports, for instance, YEN.com.gh reported in a related story that President Nana Akufo-Addo spoke for the first time about the IMF bailout during a mammoth rally held in the city Kumawu located in the Ashanti Region.
According to him, it is not true that he mismanaged the economy and run to the IMF because 29 other countries have signed up for various programmes with the Fund. He also promised that before he concludes the end of his tenure in 2024, he would have fulfilled all his promises to Ghanaians and put the economy in a much better shape with the leverage to the IMF $3 billion.
Bank of Ghana (BoG) Governor Dr. Ernest Addison has informed that a comprehensive strategy to revive the nation’s financial sector is being readied for the end of June, as part of the $3 billion facility being provided by the International Monetary Fund. The proposed reforms aim to strengthen the sector, restore market confidence and promote lending to the private sector – while commercial banks, special deposit-taking institutions and other regulated entities must submit plans for recapitalisation.
As of 2019, Ghana was the 7th largest producer of gold in the world. It is a leading producer and exporter of cocoa to Europe. It is the 2nd largest producer of cocoa globally. According to the President Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana was “the first sub-Saharan African country to achieve the goal of halving poverty, as contained in Goal 1 of the Millennium Development Goals.” The Republic of Ghana, with a population of over 32 million, is located on the coast of West Africa.
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