By Herman Tiu Laurel
After at least five decades of forsaking the American people’s welfare and progress, the U.S. Congress finally passes a $1.2-Trillion infrastructure bill, “Build, Back Better”, to be carried out over the next two decades.
Already, however, U.S. budget officials are warning that this would add $ 256-Billion to the nation’s budget deficit of $ 29-Trillion over the next ten years.
But why thank China?
If the American political-financial power elite had not been faced with the challenge of China’s unmitigated success not only at winning a trade war with the US but also its demonstrated caring for its own citizens and the underprivileged peoples of the Third Word through its domestic infrastructure and social programs as well as the global Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the U.S. may have never taken up the “Build, Back Better” program.
Just as an example: the U.S. has been repeatedly shamed by comparisons with China’s HSR (High Speed Railway) network of trains running at speeds of 350-km. per hour and totaling 37,000 kms. by the end of 2020 in crisscrossing China for the convenience and enjoyment of its people and to boost its economy. Meanwhile, $ 1-Trillion has been invested in BRI infrastructures that have linked 140 countries and economies.
The American railway Amtrak trains are designed to run at a maximum of 201-241 kph, but they rarely operate at those speeds. It is normal to read and hear complaints of the turtle speed of Amtrak intermodal trains that was described in one U.S. article I reviewed as “A train at the speed of 30km/hr. in a country (US) that large and that important on the international corridors, is something hard to imagine.”
It’s not only the trains; it’s also the roads and bridges, the public transit system (from trains to buses), the broadband internet service (where only 1-in-4 Americans have access due to cost), the electricity grid, the EV charging stations across the US, the lack of clean drinking water (surprise! Just like Africa!), the poor clean-up of rivers and lakes, the much-delayed rebuilding of airports, lack of road safety and the withholding of some social benefits for special underprivileged sectors.
Imagine the U.S. of A. spending $ 2.3-Trillion for over twenty years in the Afghanistan War while back in mainland U.S., 20,000 roads and 10,000 bridges continued to deteriorate, trains continued to run at the dismal 30 kph, only 1 out of 4 Americans could afford access to Internet service, rivers and lake grew putrid in waste and sewage. And the U.S. continues to criticize China for a host of imaginary sins.
I have written two recent articles relevant to the topic of this piece.
The first is about the German global survey that polled 120,000 people across 53 countries on “attitudes to democracy”, while the latter is about a supposed G7 $ 40-Trillion plan to rival China’s BR, which is built around Biden’s “BBBW” or “Build, Back, Better World” plan.
The German survey, which is the regular output of the Democracy Perception Index asked “whether the government in their country serves only a minority of the people or serves the majority of the people.”
Let me quote from my article:
“Fifty-two percent (52%) of Americans surveyed said their government serves only the minority. In contrast, only 13% of Chinese respondents said their government served only the minority while 87% of the Chinese see their government as serving the majority of the people. By this standard, which country is more democratic?”
My article also touched on the Covid-19 responses of the governments of the US and China as perceived by the world, “The survey asked about the performance of the US and China on the Covid-19 crisis. Ander Fogh Rasmussen is quoted saying, ‘COVID-19 is also a litmus test for democracy’. In this, China again beats the U.S. 50 to 3, with only three countries out of the 53 surveyed saying the US handled the coronavirus better than China, and only a third of people around the world said the US responded well compared to 60% who said China was better.”
The second article, which was published last June, centered on the G7 reaction to China’s BRI and Biden’s lead in responding as the man “at the head of the table.” Again, I quote my article: “Biden proposes the ‘Blue Dot’ project for the G7 that would match China’s Belt and Road Initiative with funding from public-private Western sources for infrastructure projects for the Third World countries.
“Skepticism has met the proposal as the United States and European economies, still faltering from the Covid-19, show no financial capability nor similar industrial capacity as China has for a massive global infrastructure building campaign.”
It’s been six months since and nothing has been heard of about the “Blue Dot” $ 40-Trillion “massive’ response of the G7 to China’s BRI. If the G7 does deliver on this in the future, which is highly doubtful given the state of EU and US finances, we also have to thank China’s altruistic success for provoking this competitive response.
We do hope Biden delivers on his promise to the American people on all the “BBB” projects and assuage the American people’s bewildered hurt, dealing with why their lives are so miserable with deteriorating infrastructure, economic and financial decline, and defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Meanwhile, China is doing so great with its economy and winning more friends as time goes forward. Americans’ envy, which turns to antagonism towards China, would abate if they started feeling good about their lives and themselves.
Still, we hope for the best for the US and the West while being more encouraged by European efforts at reconciling with China and talking the talk about cooperation. Asia and ASEAN are doing very well with China as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership gets going in January 2022 and BRI projects continue in the region.
The Philippines has been positively impacted by China as President Duterte also describes massive infrastructure accomplishments as his term ends as confirmed by the Dalia Research group:
“The Dalia survey finds the Filipino people more positive about their government: only 25% of Filipino respondents think its government serves only the minority, that is 75% believe President Duterte is truly serving the majority of the people.
The Philippines ranks no. 7 among the countries that have faith its government is serving the people — that is, not elitist.”
Infrastructure is the best way the government translates in caring for its people and it shows in the people’s responses in a democracy that works for them.