In America, the Left and the Right are constantly laying the smackdown on one another via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc. It’s FOX versus CNN, Cenk Uyger versus Stephen Crowder, Donald Trump versus Pelosi and Schumer, Ben Shapiro versus… Everybody! It’s literally a never-ending soap opera with juicy plots, backstabbings, and sex scandals! The problem is the infighting that occurs in America is distracting us from a situation that is quickly maturing. China is steadily becoming a heavyweight in the global economy and America may not be fully prepared for it.
The Belt and Road Initiative was announced in 2014 by the President of China, Xi Jinping. Simply put, the Initiative has two parts: (1) The Overland (Belt) “trade route connecting Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia to China.” (2) The “21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which aims to connect China, South East, and South Asia with Africa.” Essentially, China will cover 71 countries, 25% of the world’s GDP, and 50% of the world’s population according to The Guardian. China intends for those numbers to grow larger. They reached South America last year and by 2027 China’s estimated spending on infrastructure in these connected countries is $1.3 trillion!
The deals with China are incredibly attractive because “countries get much-needed infrastructure improvements.” For these developing nations, the Chinese are striking up deals with, their concern is that sooner or later they will be deeply indebted to China. It’s already happened in several countries.
Billions of dollars in loans are given to developing countries by China. Many of these countries are beginning to see that they cannot make payments. When this happens China strikes up another deal, much like the one they struck with Sri Lanka. According to the Guardian, in 2017 Sri Lanka “had to grant a 99-year lease on a strategic port to Beijing” when a loan of $1.4 billion dollars couldn’t be paid back. The lease covered the payment. Clearly, China is playing a long game.
South China Morning Post reported that Mohamed Nasheed, ex-leader of the Maldives, said, “China’s actions in the Indian Ocean amounted to a ‘land grab’ and ‘colonialism’ with 80% of its debt being held by Beijing. Also, Pakistan is nervous about their inability to pay “the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.”
The list goes on…
The Center for Global Development reported that they are “concerned about the sustainability of sovereign debt in 8 countries receiving Silk Road funds:- Pakistan, Djibouti, the Maldives, Mongolia, Laos, Montenegro, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan.”
African countries were ready and willing to be involved economically with China. The Chinese investment in Africa grew 21.7% between 2010 and 2015; that number is still rising.
China funded 85% of Ethiopia’s contribution to the Djibouti Railway and 70% of Djibouti’s contribution. China even owns 10% of Djibouti’s portion. The Djibouti Railway is very important because it is the first transboundary railway on the African continent. The Chinese are also “responsible for building the Madaraka Express, which connects the Kenyan port of Mombasa to Nairobi.”
Beijing is making great investments in countries that are too poor to pay them back. There seems to be something else going on behind the scenes. Is it possible that these countries will be so indebted to China that they have no choice but to comply with every demand and request?
Possible expansion of the Chinese military is most definitely a concern for all Americans.
The Washington Post reported the Chinese saying, “Belt and Road is not for ‘military influence’ or to ‘exert undue political influence’ ”. But, there still is cause for concern. Xi also assured that the Initiative is “a road for peace”. But, knowing the intricacies of the deals that have been made when indebted countries cannot pay up, it is almost impossible to not look twice into Chinese objectives in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Any American with half a brain knows that China is not to be trusted. It is possible that Xi is being honest about there being no intention for military expansion. However, questioning his intentions is a wise thing to do.
If not military expansion now, what about the future? If the context of geopolitics changes will the Chinese influence in these 71 countries continue to be peaceful?
If not military expansion, then what? There may or may not be a sinister plot occurring in Beijing, but American infighting will not prepare for whatever may come whether good or bad.
Will China use their economic clout to force countries not to deal with America?
For short-sighted individuals (aka isolationists), it would seem that America has nothing to do with the problems of countries who willingly make deals with China. America does have an invested interest in what is occurring on the other side of the globe. Many questions aren’t answered. If our leaders are not looking into the matter, they should be.