US 'Woos' Asia With Puny $113M Belt-Road Alternative

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 8/02/2018 04:25:00 PM
Yanks budget for, er, one pork dumpling at the global economic feast that is the Asian Century.
Trump's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to visit Asia this week to shore up American support there. His previous trips involved going to North Korea to see Kim Jong-un, but now he's supposedly in our part of the world for maintaining diplomatic ties a la winning friends and influencing people. The trouble is, his boss didn't seem to budget all that much in brib...I mean, monetary inducements to stick with Washington and stick it to Beijing:
The US government is expanding its infrastructure drive in the Asia-Pacific region using new investment programmes amid rising anxiety in Washington about China’s aggressive overseas development policies. Announced by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday, the initiative follows concerns about the Trump administration’s commitment to engaging with countries in the Indo-Pacific region.

Pompeo will visit Southeast Asia from Wednesday to Sunday, when he is expected to announce funding plans for the region. Pompeo’s “Indo-Pacific Economic Vision” will increase the financial support that the US government provides to countries in the region through a proposed merged agency, the US International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC). Along with US$113 million in direct government investment, the plan would double the global spending cap for the development finance corporation to US$60 billion, which could be used to provide private companies with loans for projects overseas.

The move comes in response to China’s ambitious “Belt and Road Initiative” – a group of multibillion-dollar transport and power projects that Beijing has used to assert its influence in Asia and beyond – and is likely to fuel suspicions from Beijing.
You know, for a country projected to run trillion dollar plus ($1,000,000,000,000+) budget deficits into perpetuity, setting aside $112,000,000 is even smaller than a rounding error. Going by my calculations, it's even less than an hour's worth of American trillion dollar annual deficits. Yet, that's all the mighty United States of America has announced for helping gain the affections of the world's most populous continent. This puny effort is of course a charm counteroffensive to China's One Belt, One Road project. How much have the Chinese budgeted in direct outlays for that?
China is pledging more than $100 billion to finance projects under its "One Belt, One Road" strategy, an ambitious initiative to strengthen the world's second-largest economy's investment, influence and trade links to the rest of the globe.

"China will endeavor to build a win-win business partnership with other countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative," President Xi Jinping said in his opening speech at a two-day forum on the plan. "These efforts are designed to promote growth both in our respective regions and globally."
That's official PRC government spending, not loan guarantees for national firms or other cheat counts. While China's motives in promoting the Belt and Road initiative are certainly questionable, you do have to wonder how muck influence 1/884th China's commitment will have in encouraging Asian nations to take America's side over China's. You also have to question whether the United States, whose own infrastructure merits a near-failing mark from civil engineers, has much to offer in this respect relative to China with its gleaming airports, expansive and smooth highways, etc.

I've heard about hegemony on the cheap, but what Trump and Pompeo have to offer is beyond laughable--especially after you factor in the tens of billions of damage the US is doing to regional economies via trade war.