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"China's New Silk Road Runs through Latin America, Prompting Warnings from the U.S." - PRI


Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China is extending its reach and power across the world, including in areas traditionally part of the U.S sphere of influence. China has a number of high-profile projects underway in Panama and in 18 other countries in Latin America but is encountering resistance from the United States. "China, patiently and methodically, is using its Belt and Road Initiative to expand and strengthen its strategic presence around the world, including in what has long been called the United States’ backyard."

Port, Panama, Canal, Channel, Containers

  • Re: China's New Silk Road Runs through Latin America, Prompting Warnings from the U.S.- PRI

    by » 3 years ago

    Interesting. Reminds me of a paper I published “Facing the Choice Among Bad Options” back when atrocities were being committed in Bosnia and Rwanda and our leaders didn’t act.  Intervention in both cases was eventually taken, but only after hundreds of thousands of deaths. On the Belt and Road issue, I wonder how our group would assess what the choice is among the options to address the issues. On one hand, economic assistance has had very mixed results on influencing policies of host governments. On the other hand, China is clearly gaining influence in today’s world, e.g., influencing the policies of the WHO. Where is this headed? What will be the results if choices are ignored? 

  • Re: China's New Silk Road Runs through Latin America, Prompting Warnings from the U.S.- PRI

    by » 3 years ago

    Am I feeling general covid-related pessimism, or is China's influence ballooning before our very eyes, at our expense? What good is "America First" rhetoric when our influence in multilateral fora is diminishing as China quietly sinks its claws in all around the world?

  • Re: China's New Silk Road Runs through Latin America, Prompting Warnings from the U.S.- PRI

    by » 3 years ago

    I'm not certain what it is that America deserves by resetting U.S. policy failures vis-a-vis China since the 1990s.  China's "China First" policy aka BRI is one of the key elements of attack under "America First".  America First doesn't state that America is going it alone; it is about "revitalizing relationships with countries that share our goals and interests", recognizing that America's economic security is central to our national security (isn't that what China has realized?), and that the most effective means of achieving peace is through building the strength of our armed forces (also something that China has determined is important to them).  "America First" involves countering China's moves through sanctions, renegotiating economic agreements -- including with China -- that were lopsided, and parrying China's moves in international organizations where China's participation was enabled during previous U.S. Administrations by now leveraging our financial contributions against groups in these organizations who often operate counter to America's national interests.  

    If you've been to China, raise your hand.  My visit saw how the Chinese government is over-leveraging debt to build hundreds of unoccupied cities while a great percentage of the Chinese people live in shacks on on the streets with no running water or sanitary facilities.  Is that a great power or peer competitor?  China's internal infrastructure is backward and local, provincial, and national governments in China for more than a decade have been issuing worthless bonds in enormous amounts to improve it.  Meanwhile, the actual construction of infrastructure falls further behind schedule because of COVID lockdowns around the country that Americans don't hear about unless you dig for this type news (see one example at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-28/china-s-600-billion-bet-to-revive-growth-with-infrastructure).  Do you believe that if the Chinese are having difficulty financing their in-country infrastructure projects they aren't also financing BRI projects through enormous debt they will likely not pay off?  China is overextending itself on a bet that they can sneak into positions of influence before the debt is called and this international Ponzi Scheme collapses.  What the falsehoods they committed through these international organizations by unleashing COVID on the world (look outside the U.S. for real devastation) should help to awaken these international organizations to risks associated with China influencing their geopolitical policies.

    Another perspective comes from a DEFSEC article out of New Zealand.  "How Powerful is China? Comparing economic, military and soft power?"  See https://defsec.net.nz/2020/03/14/how-powerful-china/   It identifies high economic and military rankings for China but not so good in soft power areas per myriad of studies.  What it reveals to me is that China is a near-peer competitor to the U.S. economically and militarily but not in trust as viewed by countries around the world.  And I suspect the rankings regarding economic standing.  

    At some point in the near future, overleveraging their debt and overextending their obligations beyond a proper, safe and reasonable point will cause China to "fumble the ball".  After all, it was less than a decade ago that articles were written about the overextension of the U.S. military globally that caused national resources to be wasted, opportunity costs to be missed, and damage to protecting our own national interests.  For one view, see https://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/twenty-years-later-the-overextended-u-s/.  

    In my opinion, China is as big a threat as they have been since America's leaders believed they could be a good international player at the end of the Cold War.  We need to keep an eye on them and understand that their is no one good solution to keeping China in check while allowing them to engage even more into the same international organizations that would bleed America's resources dry and try to dictate how Americans should secure their interests vis-a-vis a globalized society.  We need multiple approaches and you can discover that is what is currently happening when you do the research.  

    The article at https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3084979/china-debt-how-big-it-who-owns-it-and-what-next is a good read regarding what I am talking about above.  Read how China is digging its own grave by using enormous unsustainable debt to build its global position and how the U.S. is working through the World Bank (and other organizations) to put the screws to them.  China has one of the most heavily leveraged debt to GDP ratios in the world -- at least twice the U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio -- and ours needs rebalanced.  Our current Administration is not as stupid as the main stream media would have you believe vis-a-vis China.  For China, I believe their underhanded schemes will all collapse on them given a little more time.  Unfortunately, the entire world will have to suffer because of their greed.  Also, unfortunately, any future U.S. Administration could return to being co-opted by Chinese leaders in a return to failed policies.  

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