China's "New Silk Roads" Reach Latin America

Authored by Pepe Escobar via The Asia Times,

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.

Costs plummeted

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.”

‘Imperial powers’

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. 

Comments

MK ULTRA Alpha COSMOS Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:34 Permalink

The Chinese have been making big announcements for Central and South America for a long time. Once it was a train across Brazil, never happened. Then it was a canal across Central America, never happened.

The Chinese want control and ownership of which many Latin American nations aren't willing to give up. The US didn't block the above Chinese projects. A good example of the US not interfering with China is the widening of the Panama canal and Chinese ownership of the terminals on both sides. The US didn't object to a Chinese take over of the Panama canal.

It's going to be real funny and I promise I'll get the last laugh. I'm predicting the end of the China trade, there are too many geopolitical risk which China is actively engaged. An armed conflict from India to Taiwan to Japan to the South China Sea, any conflict, the China export trade decreases, a loss of the US market represents 18% of China's export economy.

The world is going to be a different place. And for the anti-American foreign and domestic haters, the change will benefit the US and the loss will be to China. The term One Belt, One Road will be a distant memory.

And it will be done to China by China, not the US. The US is not forcing China to annex East India, invade Taiwan and threaten the South China Sea countries. Any of these actions will cause a loss of trade which China must have to feed it's people and to service it's massive debt. How China adapts will be crucial to determining the extent of damage caused by imperial China conquest of new regions. 

The new mask of China is imperialism. It fits the Chinese mercantile economic model, raw materials in and finished products out. The Chinese economic model is a copy of Great Britain's mercantile imperialism. 

 

In reply to by COSMOS

MK ULTRA Alpha lloll Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:45 Permalink

The Chinese military build up on the Indian border is corporate? The Chinese territorial claims and plans to seize East India is cooperation? Chinese territorial claims on Indonesia is cooperation?

China's public declaration, military build up, and military actions to invade Taiwan is friendly? China's encroachment on Japanese territory is friendly?

In reply to by lloll

I am Groot MK ULTRA Alpha Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:01 Permalink

Totally agree. You forgot the Paracel Islands, The Spratly Islands, The Pratas Islands, The Scarborough Shoal, The Macclesfield Bank,The Natuna Islands, The Luzon Straight, and a dozen other places where China just up and declared one day they belong to them when they blatantly didn't. Even after being told in a International Court at the Hague that they didn't belong to them. They went and put offensive military bases there. Not a thing corporate about it unless those were corporate workers in military uniforms on those bases and ships.

In reply to by MK ULTRA Alpha

MozartIII VIS MAIOR Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:34 Permalink

VIS MAIOR= Stupid! Just check wikipedia.

 

China is building a world trade initiative in a 20 plus year plan. That is smart. The US can never achieve this thinking under it's current political structure. The fucking rats sell out to the latest check in a flash from what ever corporate group, both parties. Its not about future planing.

 

China will win!

In reply to by VIS MAIOR

VIS MAIOR Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:02 Permalink

US is Feared & Loathed by REAL Americans in S America because US is a Gangster Regime. One thing Trump's regime exposed is absence of Intelligence in US Generals - these people are trained to be RABID, so rabid they forget to calculate Consequences for their stupidity. Only war US won in recent history was the GREAT Victory against Grenada which did not even have an Army, Aircraft, Missiles, or even Artillery, but Hey US did DECORATE some Heroes out of that . . . . . I don't even know what to call it. Okay; Episode, sorry US had another Military Episode in Panama against ONE Ex-CIA Spy who Ruled Panama - Manuel Noriega.

Number 9 VIS MAIOR Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:16 Permalink

wining wars is bad for biz..

fighting wars is where the money is..

so...

we are now engaged in endless wars and when there is no one to fight, we arm someone to shoot at us so we can shoot at them..

most of the time we try not to hurt too many as then we have to go back to the old rigamarole of finding some other bunch of dipshits to take the weapons so we can shoot at them again..

it is all good for many cluster bomb contracts and missile manufacturers so we can shoot a SHITLOAD OF MISSILES at EMPTY AIR BASES AND CLAIM VICTORY..

you just need to get with the times here champ..

u b thupid..

In reply to by VIS MAIOR

Parrotile Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:10 Permalink

China builds whilst the US destroys.

It seems many Countries prefer a constructive ally (with the resources to see major projects through to rapid completion) over a destructive one.

The clock is ticking for the Global hegemon . . . . . . .

Xena fobe Parrotile Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:43 Permalink

Not many countries appreciate being flooded with settlers and inflated housing prices.  The population will have to be threatened by use of force to accept this.  (as we are in the US). 

It would be nice to see south america thriving economically.  China is not the answer any more than the IMF or US banks were.  

In reply to by Parrotile

JibjeResearch Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:25 Permalink

I saw this coming since 2013!

Our leaders are retards.

The BRI is maturing in Asian/Eurasia.  We still have a chance in Latin America; however, I doubt that our leaders have a plan.

The reason is how we treat people.  The USA shits on everybody.  We go and destroy shits, while China builds shits.

Our rude conduct and low moral standard will shoot ourselves on the foot every time.

 

 

Let it Go Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:32 Permalink

Remember China's plan is not guaranteed to work. China embarked on a bold agenda roughly four years ago that they say will play a major role in shaping the world.

The "One Belt, One Road initiative" also known as OROB is an all-encompassing and confusing "work in progress" that will reshape world trade and the relationships China has with many countries. The OROB strategy holds both huge potential benefits and risk for China. These are explored in the article below.

 http://China's-bold-one-belt-one-road-agenda.html

Alexander De Large Tue, 02/20/2018 - 22:51 Permalink

And so it begins.  Charlie has launched their latest offensive.

This is what me and my fellow Marines were trying to prevent: Charlie encroaching upon our territory trying to usurp our sphere of influence.

Now is the time to drop every nuclear bomb we have, and every nuclear bomb our allies have, and deploy every troop we have and every biological agent we have on the Chinese.

We must kill every living thing in China to liberate the Chinese people and bring them freedom and democracy.  They need freedom from not being melted by nukes.  It is too much stress on Charlie's mind to know they won't be nuked for pursuing prosperity.

Charlie is best when he is poor and broke.  The more civilization and wealth Charlie acquires, the crazier he becomes, and the feeble Asian mind is liable to short circuit.

Being Asian should be illegal and declared treasonous.  They must all go back.

I am Groot Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:07 Permalink

China's "Silk Road" is gonna be pockmarked with potholes and ditches. Considering how many countries territory they are trying to steal, the chances of them being able to send a box of chopsticks thousands of miles without it being hikjacked or blown up are close to zero. Maybe their buddies right next door in Russia would be interested in buying billions of dollars worth of rubber dogshit.

BitchesBetterR… Tue, 02/20/2018 - 23:36 Permalink

well- China already has Brazil with BRICS, Venezuela with the Petro Yuan, Panama with the Canal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, with Bolivia y Ecuador already flipping East-and expect soon Mexico, as the NAFTA treaty fractures.

The remaining USSA state vessels i.e. Colombia, Argentina and in some way Chile, were warned by Tillerson not to ever dare to give in to the "Chinese Progress" or "else".....