Guest Article by Bill Musgrave
For years, our “leaders” have been mired in political disputes over everything from healthcare, to the environment, to taxes, and more. All the while, a major threat has been steadily growing in the East.
Paying homage to the ancient Silk Road trade routes, China created the “Belt and Road Initiative” to expand trade and its influence around the world. If successful, many experts believe China could become the dominant economic, military and political global force.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer recently told Congress, “When it comes to China, the bottom line there is the checkbook,” he said. “Not only in the dollars and cents that they are writing to support their military expansion and their technological work, but what they’re doing around the globe…weaponizing capital.”
“Their open checkbook keeps me up at night,” he added.
U.S. negotiators–led by Robert Lighthizer– are renewing talks with China over tariffs, intellectual property rights, dumping of steel and other issues. Lurking in the background will be the immense impact China is making around the world, particularly in Africa and other third world regions. With virtually unlimited amounts of money and manpower, China is financing vast military, transportation, hydropower, and other infrastructure projects in strategic locales.
In Africa, China is lending billions to build railways, dams, bridges, oil refineries, mining operations, highways and more. Their “no-strings-attached” lending policies mean human rights abuses by totalitarian regimes are overlooked. China says this is all in the name of economic development. Critics call it neo-colonialism. Is this a debt trap that will bind these third world countries to China forever? Time will tell.
Closer to home, China is building:
• 12,000 km freight rail line from eastern China, through the country’s industrial belt on through Russia, Poland, Germany, France and ending in London. An 18-day journey.
• A $54 billion highway plus infrastructure improvements to connect China with the Gulf of Oman and its Middle Eastern shipping lanes.
• Four pipelines to carry natural gas from Kazakhstan and other nearby regions to China.
• Many more projects to enhance trade and commerce. To learn more visit the South China Morning Post website—www.scmp.com.
• China is also devoting trillions of dollars to upgrade its military into a global fighting force by 2050, capable of defending not just its homeland, but its growing interests around the world, according to Pentagon reports.
Clearly, the impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative is world-changing. A report by the Brookings Institute states, that “with China’s enhanced role in Africa is the reality that the U.S. is being increasingly edged out of the continent politically and economically. To compete with the Chinese presence and to counter the negative consequences of China’s approach, the U.S. must become more engaged in Africa with effective strategies.”
That may be true, but with our divided government and a consistent lack of support for “foreign aid” we may be in for a seismic shift in global relevance, unless our “leaders” and policy makers can convince the American people to look beyond our own parochial interests.
America is still a great country.
But we must always work to keep it that way.