by Yusuf Dhia-Allah (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 53, No. 3, Shawwal, 1444)
Looked at superficially, immigration and the growing trade between China and developing countries appear to have little in common. However, it is now widely held consensus that the world is undergoing a major shift in power dynamics. Immigration will become a key indicator in global transition towards a multipolar global order over the next several years.
One of the features of the west’s global hegemony has been the outflow of capital and human resources from developing countries to, lets call a spade a spade, NATO member countries. The prevalent reason for outflow of financial resources and talent from developing countries has been lack of political, economic and social stability.
People and businesses fear instability. The more unstable the countries of West Asia and Africa become, the more people started to flee from there. Those with better education and financial resources often opted to go to more prosperous and stable countries.
This scheme worked quite well for NATO countries on multiple levels. Politically, they were able to sell themselves as bastions of political tolerance, by accepting people fleeing from despotic regimes, that were almost always backed by the same western regimes. Economically, they would reap the benefits of people bringing in financial resources and talent.
Although an econometric shift is now taking place in a manner which no longer positions NATO countries as bastions of prosperity, this development is a process and not an event. It will, therefore, take years for other developing countries to become hubs for immigration and capital flight. Nevertheless, the perception shift is occurring quite rapidly and is to a certain extent outpacing the econometric shift.
A trip to Kuala Lumpur, Bogota, Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, and many other cosmopolitan cities quickly reveals the presence of significant numbers of people moving from developed countries to the cosmopolitan hubs of the developing world.
On April 25 Asia Times published a report pointing out how “Central Asian countries increased imports from China in March by 55% over the year-earlier month, beating the 35% jump in Chinese shipments to Southeast Asia reported previously. Former Soviet republics as well as Turkey and Iran all contributed to a near-record gain in Chinese exports to the region, a focus of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
As the world economy is rapidly becoming regionalized, new migrants to western countries will want to participate in the economic activities of the developing world. This is where political factors will come into play. By imposing economic sanctions and other means of economic pressure, western countries are already doing all they can to limit transactions with countries outside of their dominance.
This phenomenon acts as a double-edged sword. It recently manifested itself in the events surrounding Ukrainian grain exports and the inability of western firms to resist the Chinese chip market.
As pointed out by the Beirut based Al-Mayadeen television channel, “in 2022, due to anti-Russian sanctions, the price of grain reached a new record, beating the figures of 2021. Average prices for wheat were 15.6% higher than in 2021, and 24.8% for corn, while the prices of vegetable oils, milk, and meat were at their highest in more than thirty years… now, the Europeans themselves are not happy: Ukrainian farmers are dumping their crops, and European farmers are losing profits and going out to protest. As a result, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia have already announced the suspension of the import of Ukrainian agricultural products.”
As the economic primacy of NATO regimes continues to decline, they will increasingly resort to political interference. This has already been taking place for several years now, with Huawei and more recently TikTok as the most clear examples.
Huawei was eliminated from rolling out a 5G network in the UK not due to a decision based on business practice but simply out of political spite. These types of moves will become more frequent, thus making many NATO countries to be perceived as economically unfavorable. In economics, perception shapes reality.
Although there is still a large number of people heading to western countries for better economic opportunities, growing economic, social, and political problems are slowly disincentivizing many from staying there. This process is already occurring and will most likely accelerate in the near future. A poll taken in Canada in 2022, the primary example of welcoming immigrants from around the world, revealed that “30 percent of new, young immigrants to Canada could leave the country in the next two year.”
Canada is one of the more accommodating places for immigrants from a social perspective to availability of land. The situation in highly racist Europe is much worse. In France, for instance, there is a growing trend among French-Muslims leaving the country and taking their skills and finances elsewhere. The situation in Germany is not much better.
With the above metrics in mind, immigration will be the key indicator and an important factor of the global power restructuring. Most people escaping countries on the receiving end of western neo-colonialism are mainly economic refugees, not political activists. With regionalization of the global economy, the flow of human traffic to western countries is going to undergo steady restructuring.
In this new emerging dynamic, Muslim countries which adopt a genuine Ummatic approach to immigration by reducing bureaucratic procedures inherited from their colonial masters, may see a major growth in foreign direct investment and influx of educated human capital. It is not rocket science to understand that countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Turkiye have the potential to become new economic powerhouses of the world, thanks to their widely spread and highly educated diasporas. To achieve this, they can adopt an immigration framework rooted in the Islamic tradition, which historically speeded up the growth and rise of Muslims to power through their immigrant and immigration-friendly policies.
The Seerah of the last messenger of Allah (pbuh) offers lessons in all aspects of life. Unfortunately, many Muslim public servants have learnt little from it primarily because they have not bothered to study it. Instead, they are too consumed by western models because they suffer from an acute sense of inferiority complex.