China Behind Super Highway That Targets US With Mass Migration, Economic Warfare

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Sunday, Mar 24, 2024 - 03:20 AM

Authored by Darlene McCormick Sanchez via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

The grind of heavy machinery breaks the silence of the Darién jungle, where the Pan American Highway ends at Yaviza in Panama.

(Illustration by The Epoch Times, Getty Images, Shutterstock)

Construction workers have cleared towering trees to make way for a steel and concrete bridge mighty enough to withstand flooding from the Chucunaque River.

An onsite worker for the construction company Cusa told The Epoch Times the construction project will cut 4 miles into the Darién jungle at a cost of $42 million and includes a second bridge crossing the Tuira River.

That would leave some 55 miles to finish the Pan American Highway, also known as Highway 1, through the mountainous rainforest to connect it to Turbo, Colombia.

If it’s ever completed, the Pan American Highway will stretch about 18,000 miles from Alaska to Argentina, opening up a land corridor the length of the Americas.

It has gone unfinished for decades due to American and Panamanian concerns over the environment, crime, and disease—and more recently mass migration. The dangerous, rugged terrain acts as a natural barrier to travel from South to Central America.

The bridge and road expansion will end near the town of Bocas de Cupe, in the Darién Gap. However, bridging the rivers has been considered one of the major obstacles blocking completion of the highway.

The new project has worried some who fear completing the road into the Darién Gap will be a win for China and a loss for America.

Michael Yon, a former war correspondent, has been covering mass migration through Panama for several years and has used social media to bring attention to the bridge’s construction and its implications.

China would benefit through an alternate trade route around the Panama Canal, which is essential to global trade. But for the United States, it could open the floodgates to migrants from South America, he told the Epoch Times.

Meanwhile, U.S. leaders have grown increasingly wary of the military implications tied to Chinese infrastructure projects being built in America’s backyard as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), particularly around the Panama Canal.

In 2018, Panama signed on to China’s ambitious BRI project, dubbed a modern Silk Road, after publicly recognizing Taiwan as part of China, much to the surprise and concern of the United States.

Workers prepare abutments for a bridge spanning the Chucunaque River at Yaviza, Panama, on Feb. 20, 2024. An onsite worker for the construction company Cusa said the project will cut four miles into the Darien jungle at a cost of $42 million and includes a second bridge crossing the Tuira River. (Bobby Sanchez for The Epoch Times)

The CCP aims to utilize the BRI “to amass power and influence at the expense of the world’s democracies,” U.S. Southern Command Commander Army Gen. Laura Richardson warned in March.

She and other commanders in recent years have been sounding the alarm about China’s incursion into the Western Hemisphere.

China “seeks to supplant the United States as the world’s leading economic and military power,” Gen. Richardson noted in a written statement to the House Armed Services Committee.

Closing the Gap

Last year alone, a record 500,000 migrants traveled through the Darién Gap on their way to the U.S. southern border, documents show.

Mike Howell, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project, believes China’s economic development in the region threatens America’s influence and security.

If China displaces the U.S. in the Western hemisphere as the dominant economic power, then we lose our leverage,” Mr. Howell, formerly an attorney with the Department of Homeland Security, told The Epoch Times.

China is encircling the United States with infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean, Mr. Howell said.

“It’s like a boa constrictor that’s tightening and tightening around the United States,” he said.

In the 2019 book, “China’s Belt and Road and Panama: A Strategic and Prospective Scenario between the Americas and China,” author Eddie Tapiero touts the rise of China’s BRI in utopian terms.

Mr. Tapiero, a Panamanian professor and international economist who wrote his book after a BRI meeting in China, called the initiative a catalyst for “global public good,” envisioning a world where “borders no longer exist, nor do countries.”

Migrants walk by the jungle near Bajo Chiquito village, the first border control of the Darien Province in Panama, on Sept. 22, 2023. (Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images)

The book includes a BRI scenario with a map titled “Globalized Belt and Road,” showing Panama and its canal connected to Colombia by rail through the Darién Gap.

On the Colombian side of the Darién Gap, Chinese companies are working to build highways and ports.

Roadwork near the Pan American Highway in Turbo is part of the “Autopistas al Mar 2” highway project.

The project will connect Colombia’s second-largest city of Medellín to ports in Urabá, including Turbo, where the Pan American Highway ends.

China’s state-owned China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC), along with four local companies won the 2015 bid to build the Autopistas al Mar 2, according to the nonprofit Colombia Reports website.

The project was delayed until late 2019, when the Chinese-led consortium obtained the necessary loans from the China Development Bank.

Mr. Tapiero sees Panama, bookended by Colombia and Costa Rica, as a central hub in Latin America for the BRI. He suggests the United States could “reduce geopolitical uncertainty” if it, too, joins the BRI.

His globalized BRI map also showed rail routes slicing through the United States, to significant markets on America’s east and west coasts.

Infrastructure “connectivity” through air, land, and sea is a central theme of the book, which is playing out in Panama.

The bridges into the Darién are part of a contract for the rehabilitation, improvement, and maintenance of the East Pan-American Highway.

(Top) A ship is guided through the locks in the Panama Canal on Feb. 21, 2024. (Bottom) Traffic crosses the Bridge of The Americas on the Pan American Highway as an eastbound ship enters the Panama Canal on Feb. 21, 2024. (Bobby Sanchez for The Epoch Times)

It was awarded to Intervial Chile, S.A. under a public-private partnership with the government of Panama, according to government documents.

The investment for the project stands at more than $262 million as part of Panama’s Performance Standards Maintenance Program, which aims to promote agricultural, commercial, and tourist development.

Funding for the project is through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a part of World Bank Group. China has ties with both banking establishments. In 2009, China pledged $1.5 billion to IFC to boost global trade and more recently has intensified collaboration with IFC on climate friendly bonds.

Global Choke Points

A highway through the Darién Gap stands to diminish the importance of the Panama Canal, which the United States still protects under a neutrality treaty.

The canal was returned to Panama in 1999 under a treaty brokered in the 1970s with President Jimmy Carter.

The Darién Gap by land is similar to the Panama Canal by sea as a choke point, which holds military and economic value.

China’s attempt to minimize or control the canal’s strategic importance to the United States could be significant should a conflict break out over Taiwan in terms of China’s ability to shut down sea lanes, said Andrés Martínez-Fernández, the Heritage Foundation’s senior policy analyst for Latin America.

That’s a very concerning issue in particular,” he told The Epoch Times.

Mr. Martinez-Fernandez noted that Chinese companies have been busy building infrastructure on either end of the U.S.–built Panama Canal.

The canal has become a point of tension between China and the United States, which has retained the right to enforce operational neutrality on the Panama Canal.

The Panama Canal Authority controls the administration and maintenance of the waterway’s resources and security, independent of the Panamanian government.

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