China’s Belt and Road Reaches Central America

China’s Belt and Road Reaches Central America

China’s state-run Global Timeson Wednesday celebrated the inauguration of leftist dictator Daniel Ortega – beginning his fourth term as president of Nicaragua after a rigged election denounced by worldwide democracy activists and the Organization of American States – as a big victory for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The Global Times touted the support of China’s Xi Jinping for fellow dictator Ortega and swooned over the latter’s dubious “re-election” as a sign of global political realignment, as Beijing’s influence stretches deep into the Latin American “backyard” of the United States.

The Chinese Communists were delighted with Nicaragua severing its diplomatic ties to Taiwan and embracing Beijing instead – the “right choice in keeping with current trends,” according to Chinese “experts” – but the real prize was Ortega’s embrace of BRI in a meeting with Chinese special envoy Cao Jianming before his inauguration ceremony.

#Nicaragua has signed a MoU with #China to join the Belt&Road Initiative on Monday, China's National Development and Reform Commission said on Wed. By far, China has inked #BRI cooperation deals with 146 countries and 32 intl organizations.

— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) January 12, 2022

According to Chinese state media, Ortega told Cao he “totally supports and is willing to join the Belt and Road Initiative and the Global Development Initiative to build a better future for the China-Nicaragua bilateral relations.”

Cao Jianming, procurator-general of Supreme People

Cao Jianming at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 9, 2018. (GREG BAKER/AFP via Getty Images)

The Global Development Initiative (GDI) is China’s effort to use the pandemic it unleashed upon the world as leverage to extend its economic influence. The GDI is also an effort by China, the world’s worst polluter, to co-opt the climate change movement, turning it into a sales drive for “green energy” products that just happen to be manufactured by China.


Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, pictured in 2018, has been in power since 2007 but is accused of authoritarianism. (AFP)

In the Global Times’ geopolitical fantasia, Latin America only has problems with poverty because the U.S. has been keeping it down to maintain its planetary “hegemony” and prevent countries such as Nicaragua from developing healthy relationships with their friends and benefactors in the Chinese Communist Party.

In reality, as the lengthy triumphalist editorial let slip near the halfway mark, China is furious at Latin American nations for supporting Taiwan and listening to America’s entirely accurate warnings about the security problems with Chinese computer and telecom hardware:

Out of geopolitical concerns, the US not only prevented countries in the region from establishing diplomatic relations with the PRC [People’s Republic of China], spared no efforts to thwart countries from making the right choices, and set limitations to restrict Chinese companies from doing businesses in the area, Pan said. 

For example, US officials have been reportedly pressing Latin American countries to replicate Washington’s decision to exclude Huawei from its 5G networks, hyping concerns over China’s alleged “snooping activities.” 

“With the stable political situation in Nicaragua, cooperation projects especially under the BRI, likely on infrastructure and telecommunication, will soon bring benefits to local residents, analysts said, noting the cooperation stands in sharp contrast with the U.S. and EU’s latest sanctions on Nicaragua,” the Global Times anticipated.

The bulk of the Chinese Communist editorial was devoted to celebrating China’s partnership with Nicaragua as a death blow to the 20th Century model of using diplomatic and economic pressure to promote human rights and improve the lives of citizens living under authoritarian regimes. 

The Global Times was beside itself with glee over the prospect of support from Beijing helping Ortega deflect American sanctions against Nicaraguan officials for their role in “fraudulent national elections orchestrated by the regime in November,” as the U.S. Treasury Department put it on Monday.

“The Ortega-Murillo regime continues its subjugation of democracy through effectuating sham elections, silencing peaceful opposition, and holding hundreds of people as political prisoners. The United States and our partners are sending a clear message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo, and their inner circle that we continue to stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for the immediate release of these political prisoners and a return to democracy,” Treasury Under-secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson said.

China offers a competing vision of a 21st Century world order in which tyrants can do whatever it takes to maintain power – up to committing genocide and forcing restless minorities into slavery, as China does – without a word of protest from Beijing. It is hardly surprising that thugs like Ortega would prefer China’s axis of power to the demands of Western civilization, which frowns on “winning elections” by throwing all of the other candidates in jail.

John Hayward