A NOTE from Michael Roberts
With the wide sweep of social media today Ordinary Joes and Ordinary Sandras have been encouraged to express their views in ways that can sometimes be (A) incendiary or (B) silly or (C) meaningless. I happen to receive two sets of ongoing debates among Sri Lankans (some resident abroad and some at home) which are vibrant …. But also include views which seem to be off-course if not ridiculous in my estimation.
However, I was stimulated by the sagacity and common-sense embodied in a recent exchange arising from US pressure on Venezuela – which exchange brought to my notice an item on China’s role in constructing a railway between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in Peru. In the context of China’s One Belt policy in Asia and the hullabaloo about Hambantota port raised by American, Sri Lankan and others, this commentary was refreshing. Well -it IS refreshing and worth airing in Thuppahi.
Take a bow Gus, Rajeewa and Brendan.
ONE: Email from Gus Mathews in London, 4 March 2019 with headline “Another one in the eye for those who consistently raise the Chinese Bogey” – with reference to the Item on the Pacific Atlantic railroad which China is building in Peru (see below)
TWO: Email from Rajeewa Jayaweera in Lanka, 4 March 2019
Nevertheless, Gus, condemnation of US efforts to bring about regime change in Venezuela and forced food aid to the country, by China and Russia could lend moral support.
US Food aid is akin to Indian food drop to Jaffna in 1987, and international condemnation was visibly lacking.
I am not sure if dividing the globe into regions based on spheres of influence in such matters is appropriate especially from the perspective of smaller countries though it might be appropriate when it comes to the permitting of foreign forces i.e. Sri Lanka permitting foreign forces ignoring Indian concerns.
Also, do not forget, the US has been active in China’s backyard since 1951. China has lived with being ringed with US bases in South Korea, Japan, Philippines and previously in Vietnam since its inception.
Some form of moral support for Venezuela I believe would have been in order. Global silence is what Sri Lanka experienced in 1987 (unfortunately brought about by a clueless President who did not give a hoot for Foreign Affairs).
THREE: Email Query from Brendan Sosa in Lanka, 4 March 2019
It intrigues me as to why China and Russia who are supposed to be friends of Venezula have not even raised a murmur when that country is being bullied by the “great satan.”
FOUR: Email Answer from Gus Mathews, 4 March 2019
Brendan, Quite unlike the USA and to a certain extent the ‘old’ Soviet Union, China does not promote its political ideology to other nations. It is in this context that China’s attitude towards Venezuela’s current problems must be viewed. Also it must be noted that Venezuela is in the sphere of influence of the USA or as commentators acknowledge it is in the USA’s backyard and any interference by China will embolden and give moral ‘Carte Blanche’ to the USA to interfere in reciprocation to the part of the world deemed the ‘sphere of influence’ attributed to China.
It must be also noted that the USA’s is strongly opposed to any ‘socialist’ ideology as pursued by Venezuela and what better opportunity for the USA to showcase Venezuela’s failed economic policies as a failure of socialism to the world.
hina on the other hand does not embroil itself in this ideological battle and hence its support is limited to its abhorrence of USA’s interference into the internal affairs of a sovereign nation. Unlike the USA whose so called humanitarian aid to Valenzuela comes attached with political strings and a hidden agenda for ‘regime change’, China has not historically or for that matter contemporaneously get engaged in such matters.
China is an older nation with the political sagacity older than the pyramids of Egypt and is not a prone to political upstarts like the USA with a mere 250 years of political life and a ‘knee jerk’ reaction to issues around the world. China with such political and cultural depth will bide its time as we have seen by its actions around the world and will act in a considered and commensurate manner.
NEWS ITEM: “Pacific-Atlantic railroad will respect environment: Chinese premier,” 23 May 2015, https://phys.org/news/2015-05-pacific-atlantic-railroad-respect-environment-chinese.html#nRlv
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said that the Beijing-funded project to build a vast railroad between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, across Peru, would respect the region’s environment including the Amazon basin.” The three countries agree on the fact that the viability of this project will not only be favourable to our common development but will also protect the environment,” Li said upon arrival in Lima on Friday.
He is visiting Peru on a tour of South America that also includes trips to Brazil, Colombia and Chile. “China respects Latin America’s biodiversity,” Li said .”To create the infrastructure, it is necessary to protect the environment,” he added in a joint declaration made with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala after they signed 10 cooperation accords.
Humala noted that China is Peru’s principal trading partner. Commerce between the two countries has more than doubled to $16 billion since a free trade agreement went into effect in 2010. Peruvian exports to China mainly comprise mining products such as copper, zinc and iron.
The railroad could cost $10 billion. [President Ollanta] Humala said it would “consolidate Peru’s geopolitical position as the natural entry to South America. Peru wants to position itself as the regional hub for trade between Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region and already serves as an outlet port for several regional nations including Brazil.
Peru and China have special historical ties due to the arrival in Peru between 1849 and 1874 of more than 100,000 laborers who helped build the Peruvian economy through sugar production, guano collection and the building of railways.
El Callao, not far from the capital Lima, is the number one Pacific port in South America in terms of container traffic.
China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang (L) and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala pictured during a ceremony at the presidential palace in Lima on May 22, 2015. Li is on a two-day official visit to Peru, after visiting Brazil and Colombia.
China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang (R) arrives with his wife Cheng Hong at the presidential palace in Lima to hold a meeting with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala on May 22, 2015
Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2015-05-pacific-atlantic-railroad-respect-environment-chinese.html#jCp