President Trump has confirmed he is considering an attempt to buy Greenland for strategic reasons. No, this is not an out-of-season April fool’s joke.
Trump, it seems, hasn’t forgotten his old job. Remember, before he became the president of the free world, the septuagenarian was the world’s most-famous real estate developer. If the acquisition of the self-governed Danish territory comes to fruition, this would be a savvy piece of expansionism. Why? People can ridicule the president all they want, but Greenland is rich in natural resources, including iron ore, lead, zinc, diamonds, gold, rare-earth elements, uranium and oil, according to the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public-policy organization in Washington, D.C.
Anyway, why not? After all, the US acquired Louisiana from France, Florida from Spain, Alaska from Russia and much of its southwest from Mexico. Furthermore, in the 1860s, the U.S. nearly bought Greenland and Iceland. The idea, we’re told, was to surround Canada with U.S. territory and thus persuade it to join the U.S. In 1946, the U.S. tried to buy Greenland again, but the offer was rejected. Maybe, just maybe, it will be third time lucky.
Whatever the outcome, when it comes to savvy expansionism, there is one country that appears to be far ahead of the United States. That country is China.
Emerging in 1999, Beijing’s Going Global strategy sought to bid farewell to the Mao-era mindset of self-reliance, urging Chinese firms to take advantage of booming world trade and to invest in global markets. The idea that one government could commandeer sub regions in Asia, Europe and Africa, which account for 64 percent of world population and 30 percent of world GDP, might sound ludicrous. But try telling this to the Chinese government.
Make no mistake, under Xi Jinping’s guidance, China is engaged in an ideological and economic venture; the country’s ambitions for global leadership couldn’t be clearer. Between 2005 and 2017, the combined value of China’s global investment in construction was $1.8Trillion.
Construction of what, exactly?
Four words: One Belt, One Road, otherwise known as the Belt and Road initiative.
The Chinese Government is making a concerted effort to increase infrastructural, economic, and political connectivity between China and the other countries of Asia, Africa, and Europe.
This is very much the New Silk Road — a multinational endeavor to exert a level of “smart power” throughout the Eurasian landmass. While other countries find themselves consumed by petty squabbles, Beijing officials discuss square footage, potential monetary gain, and militaristic strategies.
As Sohail Khan notes,
This initiative helps develop infrastructure in developing countries and also help China to invest (and own) infrastructure in the countries. Interestingly, if you look at the tops sectors in which China has invested till date, have been Energy, Transport, Real Estate and Metals — the key ingredients for developing infrastructure.
Unsurprisingly, such a move has proved controversial in many Western capitals, particularly Washington. Many view it as a means for the Chinese to spread influence abroad and saddle countries with unimaginable levels of debt.
Over the past decade, China’s lending to other countries has surged, causing debt levels to jump dangerously high. Worryingly, as much as half of such debt to developing economies is “hidden.”
Why does this matter? According to a CNBC report,
Such “hidden” debt means that the borrowing isn’t reported to or recorded by official institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, or the Paris Club — a group of creditor nations.
According to a recent study carried out by the Kiel Institute, since the early 00’s, other countries’ debt owed to China has soared ten-fold, from less than $500 billion to more than $5 trillion — or from 1% of global economic output to more than 5%.
The report ends on an ominous note: “This has transformed China into the largest official creditor, easily surpassing the IMF or the World Bank.”
Estimates suggest that China, one of the most repressive countries in the world, now accounts for a quarter of total bank lending to emerging markets.
Why is China so eager to loan money?
Benevolence? Absolutely not. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of indentured servitude, where an employee finds himself within a system of unfree labor. He (or she) is bound by a signed or forced contract for a fixed time. Escape is impossible. You are “owned” in every sense of the world. Is China operating its own form of indentured servitude? One assumes so, because the fascist leaders in Beijing are not known for acts of pure kindness. If in doubt, just look at the chaos in Hong Kong.
Nefarious intentions, and not benevolence, explain China’s willingness to “help” other countries. After all, the US defense department expects China to add military bases around the world to protect its investments in its One Belt One Road initiative.
Beijing currently has just one overseas military base, in Djibouti. However, officials are planning others, including one in Pakistan.
China is clearly seeking to project itself as a global superpower. The One Belt One Road initiative could prove to be very dangerous.
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