Michael Setter is correct (for once) to say that China is hungry: It has a population of 1.4 billion to feed. Fortunately the Communist Party of China is there to take the Chinese people, step by step, out of poverty, with a goal to cultivate a society of moderate prosperity in the next two decades.
To create prosperity, one needs to create jobs; to create jobs one needs businesses; and to create businesses on a big scale one needs global interaction between nations. Hence the Belt and Road project. With its enormous financial reserves and experience in building transportation networks, China is assisting participating nations in building roads and infrastructure, in order to secure a free flow of goods and traffic between countries on the Belt and Road.
As the project gains momentum, the US is becoming worried that China’s influence will upset American dominance of the global order enjoyed since World War II. But being debt-ridden, the US cannot afford to got to war against China, so has chosen instead to become a setter-on, instigating propaganda (fake news through mainstream media and commentators like Michael Setter), threats (military intervention is always an option), and blackmail (the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer).
To implement his plan, Donald Trump sends his twin worriers, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo, to Belt and Road countries to convey the message that China is setting a debt trap for them. Bolton is no stranger to propaganda and threats, being the uber-hawk and propagandist who spewed fake news about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when he was George W Bush’s under-secretary of state for arms control and international security.
The mainstream media dutifully played along. In an interview with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on October 30, 2018, CNN’s Richard Quest repeatedly and awkwardly tried to tell Kenyatta that China was a lender with ill-intentions. The Kenyan president, impatient but polite, responded that his country has a healthy mix of debt from other lenders, including the United States. CNN is no stranger to fake news and propaganda, having spent the past two years accusing its own president of colluding with Russia during his election campaign.
The Belt and Road project is a win-win enterprise for participating nations. Thailand’s tourism industry will benefit after the completion of China-Laos-Thailand railway, when Isaan will open to more visiting Chinese tourists. The connection will also promote trade between Thailand and western Chinese provinces like Yunnan and Guangxi.
Perhaps in the not too distant future, Michael Setter will bump into a few Tibetan Lama from China meditating next to him on Bang Saen beach. After hearing the latest information on their lives in modern Tibet, Michael may finally bury under the sand those old Tibet tales that he keeps telling us, as he continues to bask in the breezes of freedom he is so fond of when the sun sets.