Author Topic: China is muscling into power across America’s underbelly  (Read 362 times)

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Offline Kamaji

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China is muscling into power across America’s underbelly
« on: June 20, 2023, 01:06:25 pm »
China is muscling into power across America’s underbelly

By Daniel McCarthy
June 19, 2023

When Americans think about conflict with China, Taiwan comes to mind first.

Yet there’s a front off our shores as well, in the Caribbean.

Visit almost any island in the region, and you’ll confront evidence of Beijing’s reach.

Ten Caribbean nations participate in the “Belt and Road” initiative — Grenada, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname and of course Cuba.

These states owe much of their modern infrastructure, from roads and ports to energy and telecommunications, to Beijing’s patronage.

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“Chinese development banks offered a less time-consuming process than Western-dominated multilateral lending institutions, demanded less transparency and disclosure, and were often willing to supply credit at below market interest rates,” explains Scott B. MacDonald in a recent report for the Jamestown Foundation.

The United States prides itself on upholding a “rules-based international order.”

But for developing states, the rules can be burdensome.

China offers a cheap, no-questions-asked alternative.

Unfortunately for the borrowers, the fine print often includes “the option that, in the event of failure to pay, the Chinese lending institution would assume control of the asset in question.”

Nations that don’t sell their sovereignty willingly nonetheless face “the possibility China could use leverage gained through lending or ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ as a means for Beijing to gain control over strategic assets like harbors and railways.”

And China uses its economic pull to maximum political effect.

In 2018, the Dominican Republic broke diplomatic ties with Taipei and declared Taiwan “an inalienable part of Chinese territory.”

This year, Honduras followed suit.

Now part of Belt and Road, Honduras stands to gain greater investment in hydroelectric power, among other perks.

Chinese influence throughout Latin America is growing, but the Caribbean has special significance.

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