Two thousand years ago, when silk was the star product on the market, the route for ships that transported it was an expanse of commercial action connecting China – its only producer – with Mongolia, the Indian subcontinent, Persia, Arabia, Syria, Turkey, Europe and Africa.
The New Silk Road, the landmark project of the government of Xi Jinping, formulated in 2013, and the one that will make its name in the history of China’s external relations, is, in reality, a gigantic fund of financial resources to be invested in infrastructure throughout the world.
Like an immense web, the new route has a much broader spectrum of action, and its final purpose is to efficiently connect the Asian country with Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America in order to generate, through interaction among the countries, an immense and powerful area of Chinese influence over almost the entire globe.
Chinese outreach began in Latin America well before the this project was formed, evolving, before 2013, as a growing and massive export trade with some of our countries, as well as taking the form of important bilateral investments in projects of common interest with the host country: $150 million in little more than a decade.
The framework of relations that has been created between China and countries in our geographical region, such as Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Cuba and Venezuela, is hardly fragile when one recognizes the planned manner with which the Asian country has been building this very important area of strategic and geopolitical influence.
At present, it is interesting to note how the Chinese government openly admits its desire and intention to strengthen ties with thriving areas throughout our continent, clearly stating the amount it might be interested in allocating for this purpose. According to Beijing, 115 countries have expressed support for the initiative.
Yet with every passing day, as the world’s nations find more advantages in an alliance with China for financial benefit, American criticism becomes more acidic. President Donald Trump appears to have instructed his most important representatives and spokespeople to torpedo what is considered an open foray into historically strategic areas for North American influence.
There is no doubt that the financing of projects, such as bridges, railroads, roads, airports and other infrastructure, benefits investors, and it would be foolish to believe that these are philanthropic initiatives. The goal is not only to expand trade but also to generate a beneficial repayment for the lender. Nothing could be more fair, nor is it wrong to try sharing leadership with other powers.
The U.S., however, is having trouble digesting the call made last Saturday by Chinese President Xi Jinping for more countries to join Beijing’s vast infrastructure project. It seems that a new train crash may be looming on the horizon.
Mike Pompeo has just identified the flow of money to nations south of the Rio Grande as “corrosive capital.”