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Pay Attention to Belt and Road, Writes U.S. Transportation Official

June 12, 2017 (EIRNS)—An article entitled "U.S. Engagement with Belt and Road a Strategic Imperative" in the June 9 issue of Journal of Commerce by Tony Padilla, a senior adviser for international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, warns that the United States will only continue to ignore the Belt and Road at its own peril.

"While the U.S. Congress grapples with the best way to rebuild aging U.S. infrastructure, in part by what would be a $1 trillion investment over a 10-year period, reports indicate that the China-led Belt and Road Initiative has already committed nearly $2 trillion over the past three years from a variety of sources, including the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, China’s policy banks, and multilateral and bilateral co-financing,"

Padilla writes.

And while Congress has been holding hearings on infrastructure, Padilla notes that many of the participants at an infrastructure week reception on Capital Hill had never heard of the Belt and Road. Padilla then goes on to quote former American diplomat Chas Freeman that the project is "the largest and potentially the most transformative engineering effort in human history."

Padilla does grumble about how the United States will be side-lined by the Belt and Road, if it continues to ignore, and laments China’s "aggressive mercantilism", even quoting Admiral Mahan and one of our present-day Cassandras, Admiral James Stavridis. But his response seems not a war-cry, but rather a call for America to get out of the sack and do something, to join the Belt and Road rather than trying to undermine it.

"Addressing these issues requires a portfolio of solutions, which may include lobbying for transparency in the bidding for contracts in Belt and Road-related markets while focusing on the formidable problems of international material movement and supply,"

Padilla writes.

"As an Asia Pacific power with enormous economic and strategic stakes in the Belt and Road region," Padilla continues,

"the United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines and watch these infrastructure developments abroad unfold. By accepting Belt and Road, the United States could ensure that companies and investors are able to participate in what might become the biggest economic development project in history. But it must do so cautiously, balancing the benefits of greater access to developing markets while taking a leading complementary role with our Chinese counterparts to help shape a transparent, frictionless, and equitable trade network."

He concludes again with his warning that if the United States does not get involved, it would "ultimately enable China to unilaterally draw the contour lines of the worlds next epic chapter of geopolitics and geo-economics."