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Chas Freeman: Time for the U.S. To Fully Join the Belt and Road Initiative

Nov. 10, 2016 (EIRNS)—Ambassador Chas Freeman, who addressed a recent Schiller Institute Berlin conference, delivered a lengthy address to the China Maritime Study Institute conference in Hawaii on Nov. 4, focusing on the China Belt and Road program as something that the United States must join in. Freeman cited President Eisenhower’s early experience as a young Army officer, taking 62 days to travel from the east to the west coast in 1919, as part of a military convoy. He built the national interstate highway system, based, in part, on that memory of the challenges of maintaining a unified nation without a comprehensive infrastructure grid. In 1990, Freeman noted, China adopted that approach and has since that time, built 76,000 miles of interstate high quality roads and an even larger grid of high speed rail, which first began construction in 2007. Under the five-year plan that ended in 2015, China built 82 new airports and improved another 100. In 2015 alone, China built 1.6 million miles of new fiber optic cable, making China the most connected nation in the world.

The Belt and Road is economic, not military and it will transform Asia and Europe in the biggest market link up in history. The U.S. corporate sector can play a vital role in the project, and the United States must have a seat at the table, not only for the economic benefits, but because it will assure that the Belt and Road project is truly international. He cited plans for a new Russian deep water port near the Russian-North Korean border, that will greatly reduce the shipping time and costs between the Russian Far East and the United States.

He joked that if you are not seated at the table, chances are good that you will be served for dinner.

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