Speaking to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday, President Biden suggested that the US and its allies should pursue a massive infrastructure plan to compete with China’s Belt and Road initiative.
“We talked about China and the competition they’re engaging in in the Belt and Road Initiative,” Biden told reporters after the call. “And I suggested we should have, essentially, a similar initiative coming from the democratic states.”
The Belt and Road initiative is an ambitious project that was launched by Beijing in 2013. It stretches from East Asia to Europe, and most of Washington’s European and NATO allies are involved in the project. The Trump administration discouraged its allies from participating in the project but did not have much success.
Biden’s suggestion to Johnson came after his first press conference that was held Thursday, where he vowed that he would not allow China to become the world’s “leading” country. “China has an overall goal … to become the leading country in the world, the wealthiest country in the world, and the most powerful country in the world. That’s not going to happen on my watch,” he said.
Using Cold War-style language, Biden painted US competition with China as a battle between democracy and autocracy. “I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy? Because that is what is at stake, not just with China,” he said.
With Biden putting the US-China relationship in the framework of competing ideologies, it’s no surprise that he would want to counter the Belt and Road initiative. The US seems to be threatened by Beijing’s investments across the world.
Biden’s approach to China is very similar to Trump’s, except the new administration can get US allies to play along. On Monday, the US, EU, UK, and Canada all announced sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
47 thoughts on “Biden Wants Infrastructure Project to Rival China’s Belt and Road”
Maybe we could build a Bridge from Maine to England.
Psst. How you gonna pay for it? All your ready cash has been squandered on the war machine.
Reagan proved that cash doesn’t matter. Now that we’ve idled millions by shuttering so many bars and restaurants, we only need to reemploy them building “infrastructure”. Write off old loans. Cash disappears. Make new loans. Cash reappears.
The gig is not working any more. US T-bills are not selling for the past year, and Fed is buyer. Cannot last long. There is also a possibility that current holders may need money and reduce holdings of US debt.
IMF system is not functional any more. and US replacement for OPIC can only tempt desperate. There is also the small issue of conditionality. Strings attached are many. From whom to trade and not to trade, which weapons can they buy, political demand, internal legislation. List is long. Products few. We do not have high speed rail, I doubt we will build one in India. We, and West as s whole do not have enough engineers to embark on infrastructure building. Our friend Georgia had a need for railroad to link up to Azerbaijan. Enter China, rail built. Our NATO candidate Georgia should be than told to abandon commerce with China and Russia. Unrealistic, at best.
When must the Fed stop buying T-bills?
Sure, all that other stuff is a problem, but it doesn’t stop the Fed buying T-bills.
The U.S. has lost a lot of real economic growth that we’ll never get back, but if we now put the brakes on empire because no one wants dollars outside of our territory anymore, that’s progress.
We can build high-speed rail in this country. I doubt that we should. We had the best highways in the world a few decades ago, and we build the world’s most popular EVs today. EVs driving over those highways are still the future of transportation here. Let’s focus on that.
If you bought Treasuries during the War on Terror, sucks to be you. We’ll default on those one way or another. If the default is inflationary, my retirement prospects suffer, but I want the default regardless.
if the US defaults on Treasury bills they will sell less of them still…….. banana republic
Yes, Fed will be buying T-bills until it cannot do it any more. As Fed is a collective of private banks, it will do what any private sector does — keep on generating value for someone for as long as there are buyers and the middleman can make profit.
What they are doing now is an equivalent of companies buying back their stocks to keep stock valuation up. Over time, they are are rich on paper, but are stuck if the REAL demand does not come back. At present — as the market is already punishing us with the rise of cost in commodities. On the other end — corporations cannot pass on the cost to consumers as market will not bear the higher price.
The outcome? Stagflation, cut in production.
As for transit, I believe that it was a mistake to degrade rail — trucks polluting our environment are not a good solution. Moving goods and people by rail in very dense populated regions is more efficient, less polluting and less stress on humans and systems. Same is true moving across large distances. We have gone too far in our love of highways.
We also are not ready for generating the quantities of electricity to sustain a massive EV use.
Let me not even think about the loss of production, about the loss of sustainable development, about strategic science and technology. We still believe that market will sort it out. Putting our faith into profit making instincts, forgetting that society preserving instincts should be heeded as well.
Robert Gates — not my favorite thinker — said something eminently sane the other day. To paraphrase, the neglect of our infrastructure, education and health care are the biggest dangers, not China or Russia.
We are buying them. We are the final guarantor.
It is worse than that the Fed has been loaning, guaranteeing since September, 2019 to shore up Wall Street banks’ “liquidity problems”, in the words of Chairman Powell.
The shoring up amounts to more than $9.6 trillion. Who is the final guarantor? You and I.
Cheney doubled down on that when he said deficits don’t matter any more.
Easy -we’ll raise taxes – higher personal income, corporate, and inheritance. After the tax cuts of the last 40 years, there is scads of cash in the wallets of rich Americans——–Wait a minute – that has zero chance of getting threough the Millionaire’s Club (i.e. the US Senate)
Millionaires are in the House too.
Sure, let’s wrestle with this as democracy vs autocracy…. Which are we? That’s the doctoral thesis we need.
Plutarchy vs autocracy.
No, plutocracy vs meritocracy.
Where do you find meritocracy?
Compile a list of pentagonian adversaries and you’ve done it.
Just some characteristics. Key one — public and private interests should not be commingled. Any government focused on public interest becomes our enemy. They are “autocrats”. Such “regimes” are our targets.
Where can you see meritocracy?
Anywhere where people cannot buy their way into positions of power, but have to earn it.
Earn it by having a real profession, a job, years of involvement in community, years of progressively higher levels of governance. .
Anywhere where corporations cannot pay for anyone’s candidacy. Anywhere with strict division between private money and public money. Anywhere where group decision making is overt — no power brokers behind the scene.
Anywhere where there is a clear line between public and private interest.
Anywhere being an offspring of rich, famous or powerful does not give privileged path to power.
You’re positing an ideal. In the real world these types don’t have the power to make policy decisions, -are not “archons”.
What makes you think so?
In reality, China has majority of meritocracy characteristics I ticked of. Ideologically it is Confucian meritocracy practice. When it comes to power, assets of the state are assets of the country as a whole, and state cannot transfer to private sector.
State must invest in private sector, getting reimbursement for expenses, interest and profit on earnings. State does it by professional corporations chartered to manage state money and assets n any venture with private sector.
Same is true of local governments that invest into profit making ventures. The objective is to earn money. Minimize or eliminate taxes. You cannot privatize, or alienate any public services or assets in China. It is not easy to sell public property to private interest without professional oversight. State can enter into joint ventures with private corporations, with clarity among parties as to the capital a d other assets they bring into the venture. Public — or much maligned “state” corporation — is by charter responsible for managing such ventures, and generating profit.
There is so precious little we know about both meritocracy or public capital management. We understand only Western experience. Plutocracy as a model defined Western world ever since plutocracy in France toppled monarchy as useless and expensive appendage. Plutocracy imbedded itself into UK, and transferred to US.
UK, with a combination of militarism at home and colonialism abroad managed to survive as an empire until WWII. But already in 1815 it had debt twice its GDP. And domestic hardships of Victorian era are legendary.
It may we be that the WWII slaughterhouse for both Russia and China created a different set of societal norms, and perhaps digging deeper into historic experience for answers in governance.
We, on the other hand, needed no soul searching. The world was destroyed, and we continued the only way we knew how.
“When it comes to power, assets of the state are assets of the political class, and state cannot transfer to productive sector.”
Fixed, no charge.
But first– We need a population to rival China’s!
Open the borders!
“who succeeded: autocracy or democracy?”
From a pure democratic perspective such success would be measured by polling the Chinese population on their perceived improvements with health, wealth and personal freedom or possibilities. The reason this isn’t entering the debate is the shocking result that a vast majority approves heavily.
In the West however the perception is growing that most major directions are fixed despite voting in governments promising massive changes. That could be good or bad but increasingly the populations of “free countries” see it as rigged and autocratic in nature: locked into enormous systems and treaties.
The US and its allies, all with comparatively weak economies, would match China? Not possible.
First, the US and its imperialistic allies have done this type of thing before, using the Western IMF and bribery to gain corporate access to resources in target countries. It was good for short-term profits with no lasting value.
The China Belt & Road initiative, on the other hand, in eight years with 139 national participants has been successful in infrastructure development in all continents while providing a better alternative to the IMF/World Bank. And it’s not only infrastructure. The BRI includes various “silk roads:” — digital, health, maritime, overland and polar.
There’s no way Biden and friends are going to match this effort, what some have called the ultimate post-colonialist program. They can’t even weasel their way out of the endless wars they are engaged in!
A great reference to “the corporatocracy, a vast network of corporations, banks, colluding governments, and the rich and powerful people tied to them,” is a tell-all book by John Perkins who called himself an economic hit man. Perkins “exposes the fact that all the EHM and jackal tools—false economics, false promises, threats, bribes, extortion, debt, deception, coups, assassinations, unbridled military power—are used around the world . .”. . .The New Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
How about building our own infrastructure? Why are our trains slow. do not provide sufficient connectivity and are eye watering expensive?
Our schools need refurbishing, health care not available to everyone,. Our bridges,roads, ports, all in dire need of fixing. We do not even produce enough engineers for our needs, never mind rebuilding the world.
Is US going to accept local currencies for project supplies, so that those countries can afford it, as all their dollar generating export earnings go to pay off IMF or other Western creditors.
If as appears Biden’s plan is means an “economy race”, he couldn’t be more wrong-headed. Under imminent threat of ecocide the race should be to put the economy on a war footing and drastically reduce market and consumption.
You might be interested in a website I edit, constituentassembly.org carries on with a seven faceted structure emerging from the chaos of colonial plutocracy.
It is the era where plutocracies of the West — corporate rulers utilizing mechanisms of the state — finally have to face meritocracies.
They are different in every respect. From the way they view the law and international institutions, to the way they view sovereignty and national borders.
Today plutocracies that are the ruling classes in the largest states in the West have perhaps reached their defining moment.
All plutocracies sooner or later find it tiresome to have to work through institutions of state. They prefer to save money and rule more directly. They already have a final say in who is appointed to key positions. But they demand more privatizing of state functions, and be able to run operations more directly.
Plutocracy ruled France before French revolution, and aristocracy was an expensive fig leaf of sovereign ruler. Today, they are as always finding ways to denigrate monarchies, whose behavior often gives them plenty of opportunities.
Next step is disintegrating state, and privatizing all public money and assets, insuring that public will no longer have a say in what happens.
But it is also possible that corporate feuding gets out of control with no institution being around to mediate disputes.
Yes, and we need to learn more just how meritocracy operates, and why our corporations run the state, while their state runs corporations .
Or whose money is it anyway?
“Neoliberalism” means a renewal of classical liberalism, the Darwinian (laissez faire) dispensation that obtained during the 19th century with no taxes, no regulation, near total privatization, free flow of capital, labor, and goods, and very limited gov’t, -police/army, and as a standing committee arrange for the mutual needs (e.g., protectionism) of big capital.
In these times, instead of the old city and country clubs, macro direction issues from places like Davos and Aspen; is digested and refined in a thousand think-tanks; then read to the pols and their brain managers to compete for the favor of the Plutocrats, get sponsored, get elected, and execute the policies.
Just as an FYI, the Army Corps of Engineers has something like $100 billion in work that they believe would be in national interest and a $1-$3 billion budget of new projects a year …
Another FYI, the San Francisco to Oakland Bay Bridge was originally built in one year in the 1930s … It was damaged in the 1989 earthquake. The repair (building half the bridge back) took more than a decade.
We can’t build things anymore. We are going to compete with China? Is this a joke?
And don’r forget, a Chinese company that had never built a bridge did the work. It save 250 million for US oligarchs.
Biden:“I predict to you, your children or grandchildren are going to be doing their doctoral thesis on the issue of who succeeded: autocracy or democracy? Because that is what is at stake, not just with China.”
Then (if they are lucky) come the job offers from Boeing-China, Caterpillar-China, Ford-China, Apple-China etc.
The Asia-Pacific region is increasingly important in the global supply chain, especially in China which will soon become the number one world economic power.
The Chinese may have sufficient global banking and real estate connections they could sanction officials from Western nations by exposing where their graft is hidden.
“Biden’s approach to China is very similar to Trump’s, except the new administration can get US allies to play along. On Monday, the US, EU, UK, and Canada all announced sanctions on Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang.”
China’s Belt and Road is BOTH foreign aid and domestic development. It opens up the back country of China to the world to its West. It ends the need in Western China first to ship things overland hundreds of miles East, then by sea back around the long way past Singapore to get to a place just a few hundred miles to the West of where it started.
China has extensively developed its coast, a population greater than the US. However, it has almost three times more population inland, that is landlocked and still poverty stricken. It is like two countries, and the undeveloped part is near three times bigger. Belt and Road is meant to open it to development.
So if Biden wants to match China, he’d need to match both foreign assistance and internal development in the US. China’s massive investment is doing both.
Biden is not talking about doing both. But that is what matching China would require.
He’s just suggesting inflicting the IMF and its loans on more of the world. That entirely misses the point of what China is doing. I wonder if US leaders even know that. I’m pretty sure that Biden himself is utterly clueless.
Note that if China does this, it will end up with a developed population four times the size of the US, developed to the level of what its coast is now. That would mean an economy several times bigger than the US. It might support a military in that proportion too. That may be the real panic inducing concern with the Belt and Road, among whichever few US leaders actually understand what it is doing in context.
The most critical point, thank you. There is precious little understanding what Belt and Road really means. It aims to lift Western China, connect and develop the economic potential of Central Asia, strengthen Russia-China continental transit to Europe, increase coastal traffic across South East Asia, as well as East Africa, Red Sea and Mediterranean. Run cable from Pakistan to East Africa, and an alternative Red Sea cable for ME. Connect Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
The objective is to refocus economic development away from West-centric colonial models of trade, to a network of regional trade.
Our politicians I am sure do not know much if anything about Chinese political or economic system. They do not think it necessary. It is hard seeing this end up positive for us.
If Joe Biden was completely lucid, he would miss the Energy Cliff’s significant finer points. A career based on graft has that effect also.
Most nations will accelerate their money printing in desperate attempts to reflate economies. Aside from hyperinflation, it wouldn’t be unexpected to witness accelerated global fossil fuel consumption resulting in regional shortages. We should anticipate “regional conflicts” aimed at oil supply chains.
Biden’s widely-expected abbreviated presidential term is, and henceforth, will be marred by chaos.
An infrastructure “war” with China. I can go with that.
ha ha ha jeez ha ha ha
Tax Free Bonds – no federal tax, no state tax at competitive rates. Partial debt service by User Fees.
Comments are closed.