You don’t hear much about it in the U.S., but Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative is a big deal in the Global South. That’s because it has installed infrastructure from airports to railways to ports to hospitals in poor countries with no other way to get such things. BRI also links Asia, Europe, Africa and even Latin America in an expansive, useful transportation and trade network. For a developing nation, what’s not to like?
At the BRI’s recent third international forum, at least 20 heads of state attended. According to the AP, October 17, they mostly hailed “from developing markets in Southeast and South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.” And of course, there was Russian president Vladimir Putin, whose nation “has been aiming to redirect trade toward Asia after being shut out by the European Union over its Ukraine war.”
President Joe “When in Doubt, Call the Other Guy a Dictator” Biden’s response was to announce in September, the India Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, which would connect India, the Arabian Gulf and Europe, thus competing with BRI. Unlike Beijing’s direct investment approach, Biden’s “Build Back Better World” was thin gruel, and thinner on details about exactly how much moolah Washington would put up front. In all likelihood, B3W will rely on Beltway elites’ favorite financial trickery – some version of public private partnerships. The idea that this can compete in any serious way with China’s BRI is quite hilarious.
Needless to say, participants at the October BRI fest paid little attention to IMEEC, because, after all, an elephant can’t be bothered with a fly. BRI leaders Xi Jinping and Putin were more concerned with Europe’s new “iron curtain,” aimed at stopping all commercial traffic to Russia and Belarus. According to Kirill Babaev in RT October 17, with this barrier, Europe deprives “itself of low-cost energy sources…[and] importing cheap Chinese goods by land, since Russia was the critical link” in BRI. Also, sanctions on high tech going to China “and the refusal to allow Chinese investment in their markets are also jeopardizing Sino-European trade along the Northern Sea Route…BRI is looking for new points of growth, one of which could be fast-growing Russian-Chinese trade and the coupling of the initiative with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union.”
So although Western sanctions and hostility to Russia and China failed to cripple either economic behemoth, they have caused a redirection of trade and a readjustment of goals. This may well turn out to be another instance of Washington’s elite shooting itself in the head, because all its ridiculous attacks have served mainly to cement Moscow’s and Beijing’s bond, thus creating a new economic, political and military colossus. Sadly, short-sightedness appears to be the order of the day in the West, and has been for most of this century.
Beltway diplomatic Einsteins have so aggressively thrust Russia and China together, that now the partnership has a military dimension, too. Sheer genius on Washington’s part: take two of the world’s most puissant nuclear powers and shove them into each other’s arms. What could go wrong? Well, I’ll tell you. According to the DreizinReport November 15, China has been “selling (1) armored cars for Russian internal security use (of course, freeing up Russian-made gear for war use) and (2) specialized, military-grade cargo vehicles for war use. This is in addition to specialized electronics or other military components that they sold to Russia even last year …” And of course, all this, as Dreizin notes, crosses many of Uncle Sam’s reddest lines. The kicker is that Beijing and Moscow, dum da dum dum –don’t care! “We’re now seeing the Russian state’s first Chinese ‘whole system’ buys of the war era, or likely ever.” Has Washington put a capital S on stupid or what?
Then on November 29 came news of progress with another Russian-Chinese venture – a moon research station. This lunar base has been in the works since 2021, signifying yet again the depth of the two nations’ partnership. The arrangement between Roscosmos and the China National Space Administration envisions a scientific research station built on the moon or in lunar orbit. The project has attracted other nations and groups – the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. As of last spring, over 10 other organizations and countries were negotiating agreements, reported Space News June 19, including Malaysia and possibly Venezuela.
The project would construct the lunar base in the 2030s. Despite doubts eagerly raised in the Western press about continued Russian-Chinese collaboration on this partnership, on November 29 Sputnik reported it’s a go. This example of cooperation between Beijing and Moscow reveals once more how Western foreign policy has not just failed, but in many cases backfired.
For definitive proof of Western shortsightedness, look no further than NATO’s recent noises about Kiev eventually joining. Ukraine has lost the war, which we now all know was mainly kicked off over the threat of that country entering NATO. If there’s one thing guaranteed to keep Russia fighting and winning, it’s the promise that eventually Ukraine joins the alliance. If there’s one thing that ensures Moscow will take more territory to cripple any future Ukrainian state, it’s the vow that Kiev will join NATO.
So what do the geniuses in NATO do? Announce the week of November 27 that indeed yes, they will eventually welcome Ukraine into the fold. To emphasize this cuckoo-bird policy, on November 29, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in Brussels, “Ukraine is well on the path of NATO.” A path also known as the road to hell, paved, as it is, with good intentions. Though in this case the intentions might be better characterized as suicidal.
After all, it’s not enough that alliance members have shipped all their weaponry to Ukraine, where Russia destroyed it, so that now their military cupboards are bare. Or that their actions jumpstarted the Russian munitions industry and indeed many other industries. No. The intellectual luminaries in NATO want to keep that Russian military production line humming and conscription ballooning, and they do so with their idiotic pronouncements, which doomed Ukraine at the start of this war and doom it again, just for good measure, I guess.
And the soulless stupidity doesn’t stop there. It continues in Washington’s refusal to acknowledge not only that the world is multipolar but that it has created a multipolar bloc AGAINST itself. “Twenty months into the Ukraine war, Beijing and its northern neighbor have become more economically entwined than ever before,” according to Bloomberg Markets Live October 20. The article notes that China’s share “of Russian exports had fluctuated in the 10-20 percent range” before the war. But since, “the share has more than doubled,” while China now accounts “for roughly one-third of Russia’s merchandise exports.” The report cites one expert commenting that “a new Russia-China trade axis is forming.” So it’s not surprising that Putin traveled to China in late October for the Belt and Road Forum. Russia is all in when it comes to BRI.
And why shouldn’t it be? Beijing has extended a helping hand to Moscow time and again. So the inside the Beltway gang had no excuse to be surprised at the news, reported in the Washington Post November 24, that business executives with government ties, from both countries, plan “to build an underwater tunnel connecting Russia to Crimea.” Citing intercepted emails, the article states that one of China’s largest construction companies will likely do the work – specifically the Chinese Railway Construction Corporation, a state-owned firm.
CRCC “built many of the largest road and rail networks in China…[and] an extension of the Moscow subway system that was completed in 2021.” These are massive, hypermodern infrastructure projects, of the sort we here in the U.S., where bridges crumble and potholes crater urban thoroughfares, can only dream about. The Post, it goes without saying, reported on these revelatory emails about the Crimean tunnel – emails obtained and leaked to the newspaper by Ukraine, which hoped sunlight would kill the project – with possibly the same editorial hope in mind. But regardless of whether this tunnel gets built or not, its construction shows the depth and intensity of Moscow-Beijing teamwork – something generations of American statesmen strove to avert but which the imbeciles in charge in Washington in the twenty-first century, and indeed even since the Clinton administration, couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to.
Oh well, the world is different now. There is an enormous bloc of very rich, very advanced nations arrayed against the West. It’d be nice to believe our rulers have the sense to be flexible, adapt for survival to this new reality and thus display peaceable intentions. But they were stupid enough to get us into this predicament, so no, I have little faith that they can negotiate this changed world with the goal or our survival, no less our prosperity, foremost in their minds.