By Mei Xinyu
A few years ago, I predicted that for the next 10 to 20 years, economic recession will worsen and cause major social instability in emerging countries. Africa, Latin America and Middle East Islamic countries will be the prime source of this upheaval and turmoil. For nearly three years, the Ukrainian crisis, the emergence of the Islamic State, the Yemen civil war and 2016 Turkish coup attempt have proved my prediction. In the next 10 to 20 years, “Islamic risk” will be one of the world’s biggest political risks.
For China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, Islamic risk is also a prominent political danger. According to the broadest definition, OBOR involves 64 countries, 33 of which are Muslim countries, accounting for more than half the total.
Among the remaining 31 non-Muslim countries, 10 countries have obvious existing Muslim unrest and are at risk of terror attacks. In total, 44 countries have Islamic risk, making up 69 percent of the total number of countries along OBOR.
For example, Pakistan, China’s iron-core brother, is a country with serious Islamic extremism. From 2012 to 2013, violent terrorist incidents in Pakistan caused 11,590 deaths, which included 6,008 civilians, 1,408 policemen and 4,174 militants.
As a country pursuing a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, China has no obligations to get them out of the social upheavals. What China can do is to create a favorable environment for their peaceful development through equal trade after they walk out of turbulence. When promoting OBOR, China should fully consider risk returns, and try to maximize returns while minimizing risk.
In view of Islamic risk, China ought to give priority to pre-arrangements, supplemented by measures afterward. Chinese enterprises in Muslim countries should put self-help measures first, while making government guarantees and rescue mechanisms subsidiary. Relying on these tactics means that active arrangements are vital for reducing Islamic risk during the process of perfecting a transnational operation political risk-response system. Only in this way can China minimize the cost of political risks in transnational management.
In addition, the Chinese government should modestly promote overseas aid, and expand policy-oriented export credit insurance and overseas investment insurance. However, expecting the aid to eliminate all political risks is unrealistic, which is beyond the affordability of Chinese national strength and may lead to moral hazard for enterprises.
According to the above principles, China can take measures such as organizing Chinese security companies, and carrying out rescues and intervention when necessary. Nevertheless, what China should do most is as follows.
The probability of political risks should be reduced by appropriately arranging OBOR, moderately relaxing restrictions on media reports, discussing Islamic risk, implementing neutral and friendly policies, and taking appropriate international operations strategies.
Especially, a more open media environment and more discussions about corruption problems, social unrest, rampant violence and other negative issues in Islamic countries can prevent Chinese people from entering dangerous places.
Moreover, it is advised to speed up the organization of overseas Chinese chambers of commerce, so as to strengthen overseas merchants’ ability to resist political risks. In addition, China should improve bilateral investment-protection mechanisms and upgrade policy-oriented export credit insurance and foreign investment insurance.
(The author is a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation under the Ministry of Commerce. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Preventing risk of extremism on ‘Belt and Road’
By Mei Xinyu