The short answer to Dr Alf’s incisive post is that they can but that they take a short-term view.
Western governments and plutocrats are prepared to invest in what they see as a short-term “sure things” like China itself and companies in prosperous parts of it or in technology firms that offer high returns.
The Chinese invest in long-term potential in African countries which are growing very fast from a low base and in countries immediately surrounding them, like Laos where Dr Alf now is, and Cambodia which he has visited before.
That long-term view is based on the concept of the “Blending of the Five Colours” and is hundreds of years into the future, whereas with a Western viewpoint you are lucky to get even a 20-year view.
The Bible gives us the right perspective when it says “The meek shall inherit the earth”, meek does not mean humble in the King James 1st English it was translated into, rather it means” Many”.
Westerners who are white are few and not many, so if we carry on as we have been we will “inherit” very little.
The Chinese follow these policies of swarming out and investing for the long haul to ensure food security and as a means of increasing their soft power by binding these countries more tightly into the Chinese orbit and “gravitational pull”.
This creates a buffer zone around China in its landlocked areas and a series of countries with which it can form military alliances over time whilst trading with them now or getting them into a position where they can trade in the medium term.
Western leaders are, as Donald Trump accurately points out, for the most part, extremely stupid people who are not competent.
Angela Merkel is an exception but has badly bungled the approach to refugee influxes.
The Chinese take a similar view when they talk of people like Obama and others as “children playing in a sandpit”.