By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
“(China) also will likely include enhanced river and multimodal routes linking Brazil to the Atlantic in a southerly direction through Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, and north to the Atlantic through the Guiana Shield, with improved highways through northern Brazil to the Atlantic coast of Guyana and Suriname.”- Dr. Evan Ellis
It is not by chance that Guyana became the first English-speaking country in South America to sign on to the Belt and Road Initiative. Many believe that China values its relations with Guyana which is strategically located as a logistical hub suited for China’s expansion in the Region.
Last month, Diálogo Chino reported that Guyana is a key logistical link in regional trade.
Diálogo Chino is the only independent journalism platform dedicated to better understanding the China-Latin America relationship and its sustainable development challenges.
Diálogo Chino said that the Guyana road link highlights the strategic nature “of the small country to China’s plans in Latin America. It would cut transport times to northern Brazil, China’s biggest trading partner in the region, by providing a faster route to the Panama Canal.”
Diálogo Chino also quoted Sasenerine Singh saying “China sees Guyana as a conduit to northern Brazil…A road link from Manaus to Guyana would cut thousands of kilometres off the shipping route along the Amazon River.”
But further to this, China’s plans were highlighted in a detailed paper written by Centre for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) Dr. Evan Ellis. The paper, titled “The Future of Latin America and the Caribbean in the Context of the Rise of China, points out what China has already achieved and what it is likely to achieve within 30 years based on its current trajectory.
While examining the implications of China’s “greatly expanded position” as banker, employer, and military and political partner in Latin America and the Caribbean, Dr. Ellis considered some of the possible dynamics by sector.
Looking at construction/infrastructure, Dr. Ellis said that although many of the effects of the growth of Latin America’s Pacific-facing infrastructure will occur within national borders, others will be international.
He said, “In South America, a transcontinental infrastructure that includes a network of highways, train, and river routes will connect Brazil to the Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Pacific.
“Such connections will probably include train linkages across the Amazon to Peru’s northern cost, and a more southerly train route through Bolivia to southern Peru and northern Chile.”
The research professor added, “They also will likely include enhanced river and multimodal routes linking Brazil to the Atlantic in a southerly direction through Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina, and north to the Atlantic through the Guiana Shield, with improved highways through northern Brazil to the Atlantic coast of Guyana and Suriname.”
Dr. Ellis said that the infrastructure will increase the flows of people and goods across all ten countries’ land borders.
This will focus Brazil’s attention to the security of those borders and foster coordination with its neighbours, while increasing Brazil’s interest in their internal affairs, affecting that country’s coordination and security.
Last year July when Guyana signed onto the Belt and Road Initiative, Foreign Affairs Minister, Carl Greenidge, said that Guyana is very much interested in improving its infrastructure.
Government’s Department of Information reported, “The Minister of Foreign Affairs hinted that there exists a possibility that the Linden-Lethem highway, particularly the Kurupukari to Lethem phase as well as the new proposed Demerara Harbour Bridge could be financed under this initiative.”
From all reports, the road from Brazil to Guyana will be mostly of benefit to China.
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