What if the Belt and Road Initiative Is Too Late to Stop Eternal US Hegemony?

What if the Belt and Road Initiative Is Too Late to Stop Eternal US Hegemony? by Charles Hugh Smith via Russia-Insider

The world appears to be tiring of globalization and hegemons, and that trend may doom the Belt & Road to irrelevancy.

The conventional narrative holds that China’s Belt & Road Initiative is cementing China’s global superpower status. There’s an alternative narrative, however: it’s a decade too late. From this perspective, global trade has reached the top of the S-Curve and is in the stagnation phase, which will be followed by decline or collapse.

Global trade growth loses momentum as trade tensions persist (WTO)

Why could global trade decline as a secular trend? The answer of the moment–trade wars– is more a symptom than the disease itself, which is the benefits of globalization have declined and the negative consequences are becoming unavoidable.

Trade is never “free;” there are always losers to any trade, and if the benefits accrue to the few at the expense of the many, the gains no longer offset the losses. Resistance to globalization is rising, and national interests are gaining political ground.

Then there are the strategic considerations of trade. Do you really want your nation overly dependent on other nations for energy, food, semiconductors and capital?Food security makes little sense by itself; the spectrum of autarchy / self-sufficiency must also include energy, critical technologies and capital–human, institutional and financial.

Going forward, the last thing nations will want is increasing dependence on China–or any other hegemon.

China’s debt diplomacy–pressuring “partners” to borrow immense sums from China, backed by collateral like harbors and ports–is already drawing resistance. If global trade has indeed topped out and shifted to secular decline, all the strategic reasons to limit dependency on other nations will start becoming more important than private-sector profits reaped by politically powerful corporations.

Then there’s the asymmetric inefficiencies of diesel trucks versus sea transport. The “maritime road” in the one belt, one road (OBOR) scheme is nothing new; these routes through the Indian Ocean linking Africa, the Mideast, India and Asia have been followed for hundreds of years. China isn’t bringing any new efficiencies to these longstanding sea routes.

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