. . .
The moth gets out by making a hole in the cocoon, right? To make a hole . . .it spits out this chemical that dissolves the silk and makes a hole. And the hole goes through all the layers of silk, see? So instead of one nice long thread, you’d end up with a million tiny short pieces that you couldn’t sew with. Silk farmers never let the moths come out—that would ruin everything. Get it?
from The Mulberry Project
by Linda Sue Park
Clarion Books, 2005
In ancient days, from around 200 BCE until the sixteenth century CE, travelers and merchants carried goods and ideas (and even some good ideas!) from Shanghai across northern China to the Middle East and eastern Europe. They brought luxury items, most notably silk, and spices and took home wool, gold and silver. They traveled in caravans, rarely going the whole distance, but finding trading partners along the way.
In 2013, President Xi Jinping announced that the Silk Road would be reborn as the Belt and Road Initiative. In what some see as a massive move to gain world trade dominance in goods ranging from cotton to petroleum products, China is planning to invest something in the neighborhood of a trillion dollars. So far, sixty-eight countries have signed on. Since 2013, China has loaned about forty billion dollars a year to developing countries. *According to an article in Reuters (6/13/21), the number of countries signed on to the initiative is now over 100.*
“The deals are construction contracts, typically for large-scale infrastructure projects, such as air and sea ports, road networks, energy and petrochemical development, power plants, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and real estate, and even a digital silk road with fiber optic cables and telecommunication facilities, and satellite links.” https://www.bloombergquint.com/global-economics/trumps-principled-realism-versus-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative#gs.QcfnwPc
But Pakistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Sri Lanka, and Tajikistan all owe vast amounts of money to China to repay their loans. If a debtor country cannot make timely payment of principal and interest, China will take over ownership of the project..
Whether a new railroad project through Vietnam, a nuclear power plant in Egypt, or pipe-line projects in Malaysia, country after country is building up debt to China. https://thediplomat.com/2018/07/why-the-civil-nuclear-trap-is-part-and-parcel-of-the-belt-and-road-strategy/
So, how does all of this affect us? China and the United States have a long history of trade partnership. “Made in China” is stamped or sewn onto everything from dog food to dishes to doll clothes.
The Trans Pacific Partnership was a regional trade agreement involving the U.S. and 11 other Asian-Pacific countries. Together they comprised 40 percent of the world's economic output. The TPP’s purpose was to update and expand rules for trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific. Our previous administration (Obama/Biden) made sure the US would be at the center of regional rules development. It would have supported the economic development of our allies and reaffirmed our commitment to the area. Now the TPP continues without the United States.
According to the Brookings Institution, the decision by the current administration (Trump/Pence) to recognize the Belt and Road Initiative in the new US-China trade agreement compounds uncertainty in Asia and raises further questions about US economic and strategic goals for the region. https://www.brookings.edu/research/chinas-one-belt-one-road-initiative-a-view-from-the-united-states/
And now we’re in a trade war with China. Our administration has imposed tariff after tariff on goods received from China. Solar panels and airplane parts are more expensive for manufacturers. The price of washing machines and flat-panel TVs have gone up for the rest of us.
Like it or not, our world is made of sovereign nations, each looking out for themselves. We owe it to our grandchildren to be good neighbors, looking out for each other, too.
Please vote your conscience on November 6.
—-stay curious! (and informed)