PANAMA/CARIBBEAN – CHINA’S ECONOMIC CLOUT
Recently a phone conversation with a Comcast help desk technician regarding a laptop problem led to a discussion regarding Panama. He had spent three years in Panama as a radio communications expert. My inquiries regarding the United States’ role in Panama elicited the response that the U.S. role is minimal and that of China paramount. The following day a New York Times article (4/7/2012) read: “China’s Cash Buys Inroads in Caribbean: Moving Into a Region That Looked to U.S”. The Caribbean and Panama is awash with Chinese cash and economic clout with increasing political influence.
China’s economic clout is summarized: “China’s economic might has rolled up to America’s doorstep in the Caribbean, with a flurry of loans from state banks, investments by companies and outright gifts from the government in the form of new stadiums, roads, official buildings, ports and resorts.” The article spells out in detail each particular quoted above. I had always thought the Caribbean was an American Lake with Central America benefitted by the U.S. as benevolent superpower economically and politically. This bloc of “developing countries (Panama excepted) with anemic budgets . . . once counted almost exclusively on the United States, Canada, and Europe” . Now both Caribbean countries and Panama experience the burgeoning economic and political impact of China as emerging superpower. China, it is stated, is “buying loyalty . . . in the region with so many countries indebted to it.” The foregoing calls to mind that recently reports had it that Chinese officialdom views the U.S. as a declining superpower and foresees the emergence of China in this century as the world’s foremost superpower.
My blog (4/2) : “TRAVEL IN PANAMA – IMPRESSIONS REPLACE STEREOTYPE” noted that Panama City is “in the midst of an economic boom with 100 skyscrapers and 150 in process of building . . . which alone has 80 banks”. My conversation with the Comcast help desk technician supports his statement that China’s role financially and in political influence is paramount.