by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)
Beijing is turbo-charging its infrastructure connectivity across the region and the Caribbean
A sharp, geoeconomic shift took place last month in Santiago, Chile at the second ministerial meeting of a forum grouping China and the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
The Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told his audience that the world’s second-largest economy and Latin America should join efforts to support free trade. This was about “opposing protectionism” and “working for an open world economy,” he said.
After encouraging Latin American and Caribbean nations to participate in a major November expo in China, Wang delivered the clincher – Latin America should play a “meaningful” role in the ‘New Silk Roads’, known as the Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese media duly highlighted the invitation.
The Latin American stretch of the Belt and Road project may not turn out to be as ambitious as the Eurasia program. Yet the trend is now clear with Beijing turbo-charging its infrastructure connectivity drive across the region and the Caribbean, with more deals on the way.
The strategic imperative is to build smooth connections across the continent, converging on its Pacific coastline – and forward through maritime supply lines to the Chinese seaboard. You could call it the Pacific Maritime Silk Road.
Last year, Chinese banks and institutions invested US$23 billion in Latin America – the biggest surge since 2010. And they are all in for the long haul.
Predictably, fellow BRICS member Brazil is the largest recipient of Chinese foreign investment for the past 10 years at about $46.1 billion, plus more than $10 billion in acquisitions. Russia, Indian and South Africa are the other nations that make up the BRICS bloc.
Marcos Troyjo, the director of the BricLab at Columbia University, has broken down the numbers. Up to mid-2010, Brazil was very expensive. Then suddenly costs plummeted because of the exchange rate or devaluation of companies.
Large Brazilian groups were badly damaged by the incredibly complex ‘Operation Car Wash’ corruption investigation. The infrastructure industry depended on state funds, which suddenly dried up and a wild privatization spree followed with Chinese, American and European groups taking advantage.
China is already the top trading partner of Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru. Others will inevitably follow. This is not only because China’s imports of commodities, such as iron ore, soy and corn tend to rise, but also because the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank will increase lending.
China’s master plan for Latin American trade and investment follows what is dubbed the “1+3+6” framework, mapped out by President Xi Jinping in July 2014 at a summit in Brasilia. The “1” refers to the cooperation plan itself, guiding specific projects and ranging from 2015 to 2019 as Beijing aims for $250 billion in direct investment and around $500 billion in trade.
The “3” is about the key areas of cooperation – trade, investment and finance. And the “6” prioritizes cooperation in energy and resources, and infrastructure construction, as well as agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, alongside information technology.
The top three Latin American powers, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico, who also happen to be G20 members, are all into major infrastructure expansion, which fits into Beijing’s plan.
Of course, there will be serious snags along the way, such as the $50 billion Nicaragua Inter-Oceanic Canal, now competing with a surge in Panama-China relations after the country broke ties with Taiwan. And the game-changing, transcontinental, Atlantic-Pacific railway between Brazil and Peru is also a long way away.
But Foreign Minister Wang was been careful to explain how this proposed Latin Belt and Road program will benefit the Latin American region. “It has nothing to do with geopolitical competition,” he said. “It follows the principle of achieving shared growth through discussion and collaboration. It is nothing like a zero-sum game.”
In the end, China’s geopolitical rewards will end up positively riling the Trump administration, which has taken its eye off the ball in its own backyard. Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State, decided to hit the road a few days after the China-Latin America summit in Santiago with pit stops in Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, and Jamaica.
He underlined the Monroe Doctrine a cornerstone of US policy in the region. “[It] clearly has been a success, because … what binds us together in this hemisphere are shared democratic values.”
Tillerson then bashed China, saying Latin America “does not need new imperial powers.” The Global Times stressed how Tillerson “showed disdain” to China’s “constructive approach.” “China has no military bases in the region and has dispatched no troops to any of the Latin American countries,” it said.
Tillerson most of all bashed Venezuela. He suggested sanctions aimed at “the regime” and not “the Venezuela people,” and claimed that President Nicolas Maduro could face a military coup even though Washington was not gunning for a regime change.
In fact, doubts persist on whether President Donald Trump will even show up at the next Summit of the Americas in April in Peru. The contrast is stark with President Xi, who has visited three times since 2012.
Still, a rash of academic papers has shown how Brazil and Argentina have reoriented their foreign policy from a “pro-South” stance towards a pro-US neoliberal view. Yet, China keeps advancing – geoeconomically and geopolitically.
And that appears to be a trend. Washington will need to invest in a much more sophisticated game if it is to compete economically against China. That would turn out to be the ideal trade and investment scenario which would profit Latin America the most.
Public opinion seems to have made up its mind. Across Latin America, according to a Gallup poll, approval of US foreign policy has dropped from 49% in 2016 to 24% last year. Approval of President Trump stands at a dismal 16%.
In sharp contrast, China’s investment through the Belt and Road Initiative has given President Xi a distinct advantage.
China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ is threat to US in Latin America – US commander
“Beijing’s decision to extend its ambitious multitrillion-dollar trade initiative to Latin America creates “security vulnerabilities” for the United States, said the chief of the US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), Kurt Tidd.
“Increased economic cooperation – such as the extension of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative to Latin America, one of the nodes to support China’s vision of a competing global economic initiative – and the continued provision of financing and loans that appear to have ‘no strings attached’ provide ample opportunity for China to expand its influence over key regional partners and promote unfair business and labor practices.”
Tidd added that “Increased reach to key global access points like Panama create commercial and security vulnerabilities for the United States, as do Chinese telecommunications and space ventures with dual-use potential, which could facilitate intelligence collection, compromise communication networks, and ultimately constrain our ability to work with our partners.”
“The larger strategic challenge posed by China in this region is not yet a military one. It is an economic one, and a new approach may be required to compete effectively against China’s coordinated efforts in the Americas. Some of the most critical elements needed in this effort are not ones that [SOUTHCOM] can bring to bear,” he said.”
The military getting involved with foreign policy and international economic issues, as well as diplomacy. Welcome to israel’s colonial trump regime military dictatorship.
When President Duarte of the Philippines started giving the US a pain in the ass, ISIS showed up. So, I guess terrorists are “the critical elements” SOUTHCOM needs to bring to bear to have a good excuse to be a big buttinsky.
Yes. And even before ISIS showed up, a campaign of demonization by the western media (including the New York Times) was launched in response to Duterte’s campaign and vow to clean up the drug plague that was was ruining the Philippines’ youth and future. And while there may have been some abuse by the police forces there (no doubt), the situation was blown out of proportion to make Duterte into a sinister strongman-criminal. Don’t ever forget that Duterte began as a leftist. Something the US cannot abide.
@China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ is threat to US in Latin America – US commander
That’s why we see ISIS budding in the Caribbean (Trinidad Tobago of all!)?
“Trinidad’s jihadis: how tiny nation became Isis recruiting ground”
“‘It’s a case of when, not if’: ISIS militants fleeing the Middle East will return home to the Caribbean and target western tourists, security minister warns”
This is the new US theme of the week, China in Latin America.
Part of the Hegemon’s Global Hysteria Doctrine: Threats Everywhere–Bad Russia, Bad China.
The Diplomat had an article this week on the ‘threat’ of China in Latin America.
Breitbart carried this article:
As Pepe documents, China is wagering on Infrastructure, Growth and Mutual Prosperity. The irony is, the US economy would benefit from China’s risk capital succeeding.
The issue, the problem for the US Capitalists-Globalists is they don’t want to compete. They don’t want to end poverty. They don’t want 400 million people on the Latin American half of the Hemisphere. They want to denude the planet of consumers and have a world of less than half-billion humans, with them, the Elites on the top of the Feudal System.
They will give China every obstacle in Latin America. It’s war by every mode and means short of combat.
The B&R initiative backed by Russia is uprooting the entire foundation of US world domination. That’s why they are panicking.
It appears your developing a sense of humour LM445.
The US doesn’t understand the Grand Strategic/Moral level of warfare.
Creating chaos and hysteria are the modus operandi of how psychopaths gain control and manipulate normal people.
There’s a colour revolution attempt in the Maldives against a pro-Chinese president.
There are about 11 Chinese warships in Indian oceans right now to make sure India and US not getting any stupid ideas. I am glad that our friends not getting killed because they are friends of China.
J, China is silent on the number of her submarines there as well for obvious reasons. I would expect these ships are guided missiles ships with both anti-ship and air-to-air missiles. Chinese marines on the 30,000 tonnes amphibious ship would likely have already landed in Male the capital to greet whatever special forces the Indians may want to send on behalf of the Empire.
If the Indians fail to intervene, they would have lost in their own backyard and forever be remembered for cowardice. But if they intervene and get a bloody nose, they, including their sponsors, would have been taught a sharp lesson.
In the event of Indian intervention, areas of the Himalayas may also grow hot.
“They will give China every obstacle in Latin America. It’s war by every mode and means short of combat.”
Indeed, the Belt & Road initiative is audacious and certainly affects US interests in Latina America – after all, we are ‘their backyard’, aren’t we?
As Pepe says, despite the abrupt turn to the ‘wrong direction’ in Brazil and Argentina, China is still there. Apparently, for China, it doesn’t matter what direction we go. But, we hope that this neoliberal turn is temporary – this year, we will have presidential election in Brazil (if it is allowed to happen) and the result may change this scenario.
I say ‘if it is allowed to happen’ because the corrupt president who took power after the parliamentary coup d’état of 2016 starts to act like a ‘macho man’: he has just ordered military intervention in Rio after Carnival, where he was portrayed as a vampire by a samba school. He alleges that there has been too much violence in the state – although even the military recognise that the level of violence this year was lower than last year. He is threatening military intervention in other states, as well. Will the elections happen at all? Let’s see…
We had a brutal military dictatorship starting in 1964 that lasted over 20 years. It was a CIA operation. The parliamentary coup d’état of 2016 had all the ingredients of another USA intervention. Now, it is certainly genuine to ask where the idea of a military intervention in the states came from… No doubt, the objective of this intervention is to prevent people’s struggle for their rights. It is also genuine to ask: will we have presidential elections? If not, or if another neoliberal candidate is elected (with all the support of the MSM, and the money that will flow in his/her direction), it is indeed going to be ‘war by every mode and means short of combat’, as it happened in the 1960s, 70s and 80s… Which us luck.
I wish you luck, Rita, all the luck in the world. Grit and determination from struggle your people already have so tread carefully and good luck.
Bem resumido, Rita. Oremos… :(
mod-to note: Translation: Good summation Rita, let’s pray
This is why suggesting China needs to stand up militarily wherever is so off the mark. On its own borders, surely. Elsewhere, the funded infrastructure/trade initiatives are its calculated strategic plan for peacefully confronting the dying hegemon.
It is absolutely unacceptable that russian nationalists such as Igor Strelkov, are defined by alternative media, as russian 5th columnists.
The alternative media has finally explained who the jewish devils of lazar kaganovich, Isay Davidovich Berg (inventor of the gas chamber), Leon Trotsky, lev Yazhov, and many other evil jews who murdered millions of Russians, and even chased out the Saker and many white Russians. Yet White Russian Nationalists are called 5th column.
This is unaccetable, the reality is that they let Slavyansk fall, and be taken by nazis, they let russians get bombed to pieces, and they continue to undermine Russian nationalism
And these news outlets have the nerve to call us fifth column…They are afraid because revolution is not coming from liberals like sobchak or navalny, there is a nationalist uprising that the Kremlin is afraid of… And why? Chabad Lubevich knows why
Strelkov and his idiot sidekick, the Armenian, got 10,000 people killed in Donbass.
He defied Putin’s warnings to wait. He pushed a weak, fragile, foolish, idiotic military position. He’s lucky he’s still alive.
He should have the balls to go back to Donetsk and take a gun and sit in the trenches and defend the front lines.
Nationalist movement? He’s a total idiot who now is blamed officially for the MH-17 shootdown. The guy is dope and charlatan.
“He’s a total idiot who now is blamed officially for the MH-17 shootdown.”
Strelkov shot the air liner down? Leaving aside ukronazi noise and that zionazi disinfo critter cat motya nonsense, have you got any legit sources for this claim?
USA is LOSING on all fronts geopolitically. For a country that sees everything black and white, victory or defeat, the Trumpist era has not been a win. This Trumpist wing of the Republican party sees War against China and Iran as a slight priority over a War with Russia. Wheras Democrats and McCainist Republicans want war against Russia first.
In reality all of the establishment in USA is at war with Eurasia already. A Sea Power cannot win against an allied Eurasia even if it uses all the sanctions possible, rail links are being built all over Eurasia to stop this Sea Power. But they will make it as tough as possible. All existing political movements in the USA are supremacist and exceptionalist, this is in the nature of the state itself. Wether its war on normal heterosexual behaviours, putting animal rights ahead of humans, obsessing over Kurdish and Rohingya minority rights, they always have this same sanctimonious preaching which sees Anglo Saxon and Jewish viewpoints as the God Given ideal which all others much follow. The forcing of Anglo views on other countries is their key defining characteristic. We can only wonder why so much of the world is silent at this type of imperialism, the Cultural domination is even more apparent than militarily. Most of Europe is a colony with imposed policies from Washington. Anglo Saxon cultural norms were imposed on western Europe after the war, but these are slowly being overturned. Iceland is banning Circumsision, a move which has outraged the Israelis , Muslims and Anglo’s. Other countries in Europe will follow Iceland. Circumsision is child abuse and has no place in European or Asian culture. It is a imposed norm used only by Anglo’s, Jews and Muslims. The Pagan, Catholic and Orthodox europeans must stand up.
I think to stop China, they will try to resort to nuclear war. The US cannot accept the rise of China or any country that can come near to compete with it. But whether they can succeed in launching nuclear war against China and Russia is a big question mark. I doubt they can succeed. Which means that we are looking at the conventional military defeat of the US with or without a hot war, its economic collapse and its balkanisation in that order.
The fact that the Latin American stretch of the Belt and Road project may not turn out to be as ambitious as the Eurasia program is of no importance. What is important is that China has set a foothold in Latin America. Time is the factor for further advancements. As for Eurasia, it’s logical that China should give it top priority.
As for the Monroe Doctrine, that little bit of imperialism by a former colony cannot be accepted.
Its really very simple. PRC is not going to hold trillions in low yield USD TBs only for the US to lend this same capital via IMF,etc to gain geopolitical plus points. PRC would rather lend direct (at a higher yield) to countries that are going to soak up its steel and cement etc, AND give it a geopolitical edge over Uncle Satan at the same time. Its got a perfect template, South Africa,Ethiopia (Djibouti base) and South Asian countries incl Phillipines.
Maybe the Chinese will finance the purchase of an interest in S. Arabia’s Aramco with US Treasuries:
RUSSIA SEALS KEY ENERGY PACTS WITH SAUDIS, SHAKING UP US MIDEAST DOMINANCE
Moscow and Riyadh sign several big energy deals, advancing and solidifying Russia’s place in the world oil markets
Very nice piece, Mr Pepe, heartening to read. Keep ’em coming.
Tillerson and Trump should stay far away from the Rio Grande. Let Latin America decide its own fate. US
does not own Central and South America.
Maybe the Latinos along “La Frontera” need to wise up and dump idiots like McInsane, some of their own “La Raza” poverty pimps that just want more minimum wage Democrat fruit pickers, maids, and lawn maintenance votes they can herd around and exploit like sheep, and get a taste of some generational progress.
Those jobs are ok for the first immigrants to survive, and the next generations generally do a little better. But….. just a little…….. because of the globalists policy of looting labor (and capital!) worldwide provides only a “service economy” where 1 wage earner is hard pressed to raise a family.
They could do a LOT better.
But their chances are certainly better with a Trump deal-maker (once again, West Virginia guys….$83 billion in Chinese investment welcomed their by Governor Jim Justice and President Trump) than being slaves on the Demorat Russia-gating Plantation.
There’s still a lot of fakery and kibuki afoot. But I expect Real Cash will “talk” and a lot of theater and bullshit will ultimately “walk”.
Away in shame and disgrace.
The Trump Base and Year 2
“The main one, rather bluntly, is: how does this Base still persist? Really, there is no good reason for Trump to have a base any wider than the slim top of the wealth pyramid that he so blatantly represents. After all, in the broad spectrum of more modern right-wing populism — from a Thatcher to a Hitler — most had a modicum of lower-class personal pedigree that allowed some identification from rank-and-file followers. But there’s no such thing here, not even some sappy “rags-to-riches” myth — just inherited wealth, shrewd business dealings and pure, unabashed Veblenian “conspicuous consumption”, Mar-a-Lago style. This question is even starker in this post-Great Recession era when Reaganesque neoliberal fairy tales have lost most currency. Furthermore, these 15 months (just since the election, with many more before) of continuous faux pas, scandal and turmoil are objectively discrediting. Finally, this administration has by now really shed most of its “anti-establishment” veneer, revealing openly pro-elite, anti-public core policies. So, why has the Base not disintegrated yet? What is it in the Trump brand and message that actually still resonates with some broad segments of the proverbial “99%”? And what will it take to change that?
There are certainly no simple answers here, but we might turn for some clues to president’s apologist Newt Gingrich, who commented the day after the infamous January 11 immigration vulgarities:
Trump relies on the fact that his opponents are so nihilistic and elitist that they’ll react hysterically to something like this. […] And [Trump’s] base isn’t remotely corroded by this. Almost anything he does that is outside the establishment resonates in the end with people who say, well, at least he’s sticking it to the powerful.
Please parse this carefully. Ignoring details and exaggerations, it does accurately reveal the basic play: regardless of the ostensible recipient, Trump’s communication is mostly aimed at the Base: cementing at the core, extending around the edges. There is no need to cozy up to Republican party establishment. By now, they have no choice but to fall into line. No need to harangue the moneyed elites. They’ll be getting their payback and they know it. And no need bothering to soften up outright opponents. The message is targeted at reaffirming his populist brand directly, and even more so by eliciting predictable opposition reaction that reinforces that.
There is nothing particularly original about this age-old approach of divide-and-conquer. It was quite prominent in the US even in the post-Civil War era and ensuing Gilded Age. Among many others, Robert Reich articulated its pitfalls in his 1997 resignation speech. More recently, in her excellent latest book, “No is Not Enough – Resisting Trump’s Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need”, meticulously analyzing this kind of multilevel shock therapy, Naomi Klein states:
In truth, nothing has done more to build our present corporate dystopia than the persistent and systematic pitting of working-class whites against Blacks, citizens against migrants, and men against women.
In the present context, this generally might mean: Stop playing the Trump game and falling for his tricks, provocations and divisiveness. Stop being reactive. A sensible resistance should start defining its own frame and game.”
Once formed, political opinions do not easily change. So the persistence of support for Trump is not surprising. Still, it does occur to me that the “Russian Collusion” narrative has actually provided Trump a very useful distraction. It has given Trump an opportunity to react with defiance and outrage through his tweets which he does well. This delights his supporters and causes them to close ranks around the President. Moreover, the idea of a battle between Trump and the establishment and Deep State also provides justification to those suspicious of government who rightly perceive “Russia Collusion” as nonsense. All that keeps his supporters from focusing on the many disappointments provided by his administration to date. Trump’s opponents, on the other hand, make themselves look ridiculous chasing after the Russians and thus neglect real reasons for opposing his agenda.
But Washington can’t both do that and pay for its military adventures abroad. Too late Washington will wake up and realize that China has very skillfully been about the business of building a complex global trade infrastructure through which money will gush into China. How will Washington be able to afford to compete with China when that happens?
Various parties (mostly the Fake Stream Media) overstate the issue trying to create a “win-lose” conflict between the U.S. and China when the truth is much more grey.
-1- Trump is killing off trade exploitation via NAFTA.
Globalists are losing badly in the NAFTA talks.
Due to impending restrictions on U.S. market access – China is looking for other places to send its goods. MENA and South America are logical choices.
-2- Bargains are available in South America
Buy low, Sell high.
Anyone wishing to buy assets in Venezuela can now do so at a modest price due to the falling currency. As long as China avoids head-line grabbing assets such as oil production, they should be able to limit nationalisation risk.
Venezuela’s problems have also created spillover issues neighbouring countries. Firms are unlikely to be able to collect amounts due or if those debts are denominated in VEF the payment will be devalued. Chinese financing can rescue firms that are squeezed in cash flow rather than fundamentals.
President Trump’s most hated number is getting bigger.
” the gap with Trump’s two favorite rhetorical trade targets, Mexico and China, is getting bigger. The overall trade deficit with Mexico is up 11% this year, and the deficit with China is up 7%.”
U.S. Trade Deficit Grew to $566 Billion in 2017, Its Widest Mark in Nine Years
Goods deficit with China hit record $375.2 billion
The Anglozionist Empire is not interested in investing sh#t in LatinoAmérica because they have the best Return On Investment ever: 99% for the ziocompany and 1% for the Banana Goypublic (That’s actually factual data!). This is done because the governors of the Republiquetas are normally sold out Freemasons controlled ultimately by the City of London (For example, in Colonia, Varito (their Freemasonic agent and former governor) lowered the participation of Colonia from 30% to an insulting 0,5% of the profits generated by the exploitation of the mineral resources conducted by the anglozionist companies).
Chavez just wanted to force the ziocompanies to comply with the international standards to exploit the resource together: 26% for the Goypublic and 74% for the foreign company, which must also carry out the exploration and its risks. With this money he addressed the scandalous statistic of poverty in the Goypublic: 78% of people under the poverty line in a land replete with petrol.
The ziosatanists perceive as a better economic prospect just to kill the leader and pursuit an attrition war against the Goypublic…