Ever heard of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative? If you have followed geopolitics for the last few years, chances are you have. It is an admittedly huge topic, but I will try to provide a brief overview. The aim is to provide a little more context and explain why the actions this foreign power stand to affect US global hegemony, and therefore, the good people of Dixie.
It is important to first note how much the accelerated growth of technology has recently altered the political and economic geography of the planet. Diplomatic boundaries remain more or less the same as in the 90s, but our world is far more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. The global development of modern infrastructure – new railways, highways, pipelines, ports, etc. – and the widespread adoption of the internet has tied our fates to people the world over.
Nearly all of our resources – the food we consume, the materials we employ, the energy we utilize – is sourced from or influenced by factors well outside of our control, often thousands of miles from home. Unless you live way off the grid and maintain complete self-sufficiency, this is just reality. Unsurprisingly, a key priority of the world’s most powerful empires and states is the manipulation of these global supply chains in their own interests. Understanding this point is essential to unpacking the Belt and Road Initiative.
For the past several years, the Chinese government and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have undertaken two serious geopolitical megaprojects. First, they are developing a transcontinental infrastructure network which connects all of Eurasia, from Eastern China to Western Europe (the “Land Belt”). Second, they are building new ports and maritime shipping infrastructure, which stretches from the South China Sea to the East coast of Africa (the “Maritime Silk Road”). It is estimated that China’s leadership plans to spend over $1 trillion on what has been dubbed the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) by Chinese leadership.
According to the establishment think tank CSIS, the Initiative encompasses 65 countries – a vast region of vital political and economic importance comprising 4.4 billion people, 72% of the global population, and 55 percent of world GDP. A particular focus of the BRI is the economic development of third world Central Asian, Southeast Asian, and African countries. In most cases, Chinese investment banks provide the loans and Chinese contractors supply the equipment, expertise, and even a percentage of the manpower to complete each individual project.
Without delving too far into the weeds here, most of the world’s trade routes run across the oceans and seas. Despite being relatively slow, heavy maritime shipping is vastly cheaper than shipping an equivalent amount by land or air. As a result, approximately 90% of Chinese trade is conducted via the world’s oceans. This reality presents a geopolitical problem for China, who’s main rival – the United States – currently rules the waves. In order to circumvent American naval supremacy, China is expanding Eurasian railways, pipelines, highways, etc. to make land trade faster and more economically viable.
In addition to providing a economic contingency plan for China’s stabilizing economy, the BRI builds China’s profile in geostrategic countries along the edge of the USA’s hegemonic reach. Implementing the BRI grows the economic potential of targeted developing nations, in addition to granting Chinese enterprises privileged access to new business opportunities. The number of Chinese living outside the country is steadily increasing alongside the BRI. On the African continent alone, over 1 million Chinese have been living and working since at least 2014.
In short, China has quickly and quietly cultivated a geopolitical model of economic penetration for the past several years. Instead of focusing on the construction of foreign military bases and increasing their international arms exports, the Chinese government is investing in the economic infrastructure of a vastly more interconnected world. Should the third-world recipients of Chinese loans be unable to pay them back, the Chinese government would essentially own whole swaths of strategic foreign infrastructure. Regardless, this strategy is advertised as one of mutual benefit for both China and the outside world, and has proved attractive enough for developing countries to play along. Although not without its core weaknesses, the BRI appears to be much more effective in generating the support of the third world for China’s vision of the future.
Why should you care?
So, what does this mean for Dixie? Why should we even care?
The United States is the world’s preeminent superpower, in terms of both military might and cultural soft power. The maintenance of this global empire has cost American taxpayers a monumental amount of blood and treasure, a burden that is particularly shouldered by people in the South. As a result, it should be no surprise that most Southern Nationalists support Trump’s recent decision to withdraw US troops from war-torn Afghanistan and Syria. Unfortunately, scaling down the US military’s role abroad will have geopolitical consequences, the very kind that spook the chickenhawks in DC.
While the United States is struggling to contend with the ramifications of its military overextension, China is already stepping in to fill the gaps and build a resurgent empire of its own. If either side of this geopolitical power struggle feels pressured into covertly or overtly disrupting the actions of the other, the two powers could easily fall into the Thucydides Trap. This new generation of war would plunge the world into an unpredictable chaos.
China’s global expansion is relevant to Dixie because its people are still inextricably tied to the fate of the US Empire. If China’s power continues to grow, and the elites opt to directly challenge that growth, it could conceivably result in another, greater war. Make no mistake, if such a war comes, Southern families will end up bearing the brunt of it financially and demographically. On the steppes of Central Asia or across the Strait of Malacca, it will be our boys who are sent to fight.
-By George Willard
Oh, I'm a good old Rebel, now that's just what I am; For this "Fair Land of Freedom" I do not give a damn! I'm glad I fit against it, I only wish we'd won, And I don't want no pardon for anything I done.