The China Index, a database relaunched on December 8 by DoubleThink Labs, a Taiwan-based research organization has ranked Pakistan atop a list of 82 other nations around the world and said that its links and dependency on China with regard to foreign and domestic policy, technology, and the economy make it particularly susceptible to Chinese influence.
Following Pakistan, Cambodia and Singapore are listed at the second spot while Thailand at third position, as per the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) report. The Philippines is listed at the seventh spot while Malaysia lies in the 10th position. South Africa and Peru are tied at the fifth spot on the index.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are at the eighth and ninth spots on the index. These two countries share a border with China’s Xinjiang Province and are the Central Asian countries most influenced by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Germany is the highest-ranked European country at 19th spot while the United States leads North America in the 21st position, as per the news report. While compiling the China index, the research team focused on nine categories to monitor influence around the world, which includes higher education, domestic politics, economic ties, foreign policy, military cooperation, media, technology and cultural links.
Speaking to RFE/RL, Min Hsuan-Wu, the co-founder and CEO of Doublethink Labs, said that the database has been created to raise awareness about different aspects of China’s influence. Wu stressed that the system will help to have more understanding that challenges some assumptions about levers of Chinese influence, particularly around economics and trade.
“A major goal of [of this database] is to raise awareness around the world about the different aspects of Chinese influence and what that can actually look like,” RFE/RL quoted Min Hsuan-Wu as saying.
“We have taken a much broader and nuanced look at what influence can be, which can tell us more about what Beijing is actually doing and the different ways it can apply pressure,” Min Hsuan-Wu added.
Pakistan leading in the index is no surprise as the South Asian country is home to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a centrepiece of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative which involves funding of Chinese entities in developing infrastructure projects in the past 10 years.
Pakistan’s relations with China have increased in every sector, particularly in military ties, technology and foreign policy, according to RFE/RL report. Shahzeb Jillani, a veteran journalist who helped compile research on Pakistan used for the database, said that they can only hope that the index will encourage the people of Pakistan to debate regarding the pros and cons of the country’s ties with China.
While trade and investment were an early impetus, Chinese influence now plays an increasing role in foreign policy, local media, defence and security. In the index rankings, Kyrgyzstan ranks in the 10th place while Kazakhstan holds the 15th spot.
Meanwhile, Uzbekistan is listed at the 24th spot while Turkmenistan which sells a large portion of its natural gas to China is listed at the 45th position, as per the news report. Notably, the United Kingdom is in the 27th spot on the index and is ranked as the second-highest European country. This time, the database involved 82 nations, however, DoubleThink Labs plans to expand it in the future, particularly across Africa.