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The Chinese Working Style.

October 19, 2016

Its not the question of Indians getting jealous of CPEC or anything.

Married to a professional engineer who has over 25 years hands-on field experience in execution and management of multinational infrastructure & heavy industry projects such as oil & gas, reservoirs, airports, highways & bridges and treatment plants with turnover in billions of dollars (yes its me who’s always drafted his CV ūüėÄ ), I have my ears perfectly attuned to what is going on in the industry at any given point of time.

I have this to say on projects executed by chinese in foreign soil. May be not very refined observations with supporting statistics but the facts are verifiable anywhere.

  • The chinese ship their entire manpower requirements from labour force and technicians to engineers and managers WHO CANNOT SPEAK A SINGLE WORD OF ENGLISH 100% without drawing into the talent pool of the local/hosting nation. There was this incidence of over 4000 chinese labourers shipped to a project in a single shot at very shortest notice even though there was plenty of supply of (registered) human resources available in the country where they picked up the project. Normally all other countries tap into this readily available workforce through authorized agents and may get only very special appointments such as technical advisers, engineers, managers etc from their home country.
  • Just imagine when the chinese are so quick to mobilize resources at short notice, what they can do about proper planned projects spanning years/decades. Impossible feat that no other nation on earth can hope to achieve/enact. Effective engagement and capacity utilization of their own idling labour force/resources at your cost. Very smart.
  • The chinese labour force comprise entirely of China’s prison inmates. So the chinese government need not have to pay them. Further their labourers work the longest hours. Nobody dares to enter a chinese work site to supervise what is going on. ¬†Labourers reportedly live in squalid conditions and are meted out inhumane treatment but as they are prison inmates, they have no case to make complaints. Where are the human rights agencies now?
  • The chinese projects are very low quoted be it in Africa or Asia. No other bidder can afford picking up infrastructure or road or whatever project at the lowest rates they bid. It goes without saying, the chinese are incurring heavy losses by the way but their point is obvious: they want to make a foray into all corners of the globe at whatever cost and their government subsidizes them heavily.
  • Apart from industrial raw materials, machine tools and capital goods of production (the chinese ship their own portacabins and every other requirement from screw driver to satellite denying the host nations of any share in the pie direct or indirect), they also import consumer goods¬†(from soaps to bottled water) (being the manufacturing giant and are the world’s market leaders they are).
  • Not even the automobiles are supplied by host nations. You can see ‘The Great Wall’ SUVs everywhere. With spareparts also procured from China. Same is the case with mobile phones and other electrical/electronic appliances.
  • Finally even chinese food is from China. From spices to rice and tomato sauce and plates and bowls to chefs and drivers and even fish and meat (including pork – something even Arab nations tolerate), China supplies everything to projects the chinese undertake in foreign countries.
  • You may not therefore spot a chinese labourer or engineer socializing in foreign soil outside their labour camps. You may not find them in restaurants or shopping malls or beach or cinemas or cultural shows or wherever. Not a single penny in contribution to local food industry or entertainment scene. Leave alone the commercial/trade sector. ZERO value edition to the economy of the host nation.
  • India is a country where labour laws are very tough. In highway projects where Malaysian companies were investing, India allowed only the head of the project and 1-2 engineers from Malaysia. Nothing more. We see some Chinese labourers and Korean engineers even in Chennai but that is (mandatory) skeletal staff, more by way of representation for knowledge transfer. Only the investors are foreign. 100% raw material to human resources, India procures/employs local talent. We have a vast and varied talent pool from middle-level managers to top executives to engineers and skilled labourers and technicians eliminating reasons for import of foreign labour, if any. Our Malaysian friends used to lament how every single year they had to renew their visas going back to Kuala Lumpur. No chance of renewing visas in India. Very tight and stringent immigration rules. It came as a surprise even to us Indians. But what can you expect in a labour-intensive country like ours.
  • Why compare India with China. Can India ever be as ruthless and cold like China?
  • The relentless ambition of the chinese in securing the African and Asian markets is shocking. No other nation in the world in this 21st century could be as brutal as the chinese government.
  • Quality of chinese infrastructure outside China is susceptible to falling below prescribed standards. Their structures are grotesque without any sense of aesthetics. Apart from quality compromise, the cheapness of their execution and style is stark¬†plain¬†to other field players.
  • The host nations forget, they still have to meet the chinese bills. China projects do not come free. The greedy nations that award projects to China at the lowest bid will have to regret for next 100 years for letting themselves be conned. What they think they save by way of few million dollars now is nothing for what they are getting back by way of returns when the chinese handover theiir projects.
  • Project over-runs: very common. No chinese overseas project gets completed on time. May be that applies to China but when it comes to third party countries, China does not stick to time frame or project outlay. Overhead costs shooting up is a bitter but inevitable reality.
  • Wait and watch what China can do to you.

This is not a biased write-up. 100% firsthand news as I have heard over years from friends working in Africa, Middle-East, South East Asia etc.


More on the topic:


Now what CPEC/RANDI can do further: (guess I have blogged earlier on this)

  • Strangulate the local small scale industry. Forget desi manufacturing. The short-term gains are always more alluring to nations and people without a long range vision. Flooding the markets of Asian or African countries with cheap chinese goods.
  • Trickle down effects: More (and resultant) unemployment, adverse balance of trade positions, mounting international debts).
  • Long-term lease of ports? China will never give up these transit routes or key ports – like South China Sea, they will make them their own. Or the local government will have to get ready to pay back a hefty price that they can never afford. You become indebted to China for lifetime. You will have no moral or legal claims over your ports or transit.
  • Gwadar Port may not be of temporary interest to China, but rather of PROPRIETARY INTEREST.¬†
  • You must be fools to let a foreign nation make a regular thoroughfare through your sovereign soil to access port or whatever. Who benefits from this trade. Not for billions/trillions of dollars you must do this. Instead eat grass if you have to. A nation’s security is forever compromised with incessant foreign presence. Territorial integrity is sacred. Not even our best friends may be allowed to breach it (even for a few dollars in some private pockets).
  • What abour reciprocation?¬†The Silk Route will be one-way or dead end for Pakistanis. It’s a two way affair only for the Chinese. Will China give you so much leverage that you are giving them. Just try.
  • Equations change: there are no permanent friends or enemies in today’s world. 30 years back we Indians spoke about Russia the way today Pakistan talks about China. Where do we stand today. Russia no more matters to India just the way India no more matters to Russia. A commitment to the tune of CPEC would mean, forever Pakistan will be under the thumbs of China.

Actually CPEC may be good for India in the long run. It will finish off Pakistan textile industry and whatever remains of local manufacturing industry. Pakistan’s natural resources such as water and minerals/metals etc will be sucked out/exhausted completely: trust the chinese with the mission. Pakistan will be ruined completely economically and Balochistan will ultimately belong to Chinese in another 40-50 years. In short, Pakistan will be hostage to China on their terms and conditions for eternity.

So let’s Indians no more think of CPEC. As for technology transfer, knowledge transfer, employing/using the local talent pool improving productivity, giving back the host nation in terms of services such as education or health care facilities – you have to just remind yourselves who China labourers are: PRISON INMATES. Will India or America or UK or Japan do it in a 1000 years?


INDIA : LEARN TO RELAX. ‘MAKE IN INDIA’ is a billion dollar question when we allow our importers licences to fly to China to get back home Chinese Ganeshas and fire-crackers for Diwali let alone putting up a Patel statue with chinese technology. Disillusioned! Patel would commit suicide.

Sometimes I feel, Indian growth story is quite like our stock market. Bullish on paper than real substance or actual market value realization. Modi government is completing 3 years. I would rather have the stocks showing in the red than them misleading me with false hopes and false sense of security. Stock market indices are not parameters that determine a nation’s progress and development.¬†


High time India also stops comparing itself with China. China is what it is today because of its ruthlessness. Indians can never be as cunning or as deceiving. Our culture, our blood, our ancestry, our values wouldn’t let us do it. We are a nation where we even gave Kasab biryani when he was on death row. We gave him a public prosecutor. Let India be India. And if it means we shall always lag behind China, so be it.

Finally may be this sounds like a racist comment: but not even in Islamic countries where they hate dogs, any one will make a meat (literally) out of man’s best friend. No nation or race that feasts on canine creatures can be trusted, in my humble opinion. To be dog-eaters means, you will do anything, go to any extent and you have absolutely ZERO MORALS & ETHICS & VALUES. You are sub-human. The British/Europeans hunted down wildlife when awareness was lacking. They don’t do it now. But the Chinese pursuit in recent years of elephants and whales and exotic wildlife driving them to extinction is a well-established fact.



From → Dilli Durbar

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