Nicaragua Canal, China’s Foothold in Latin America

Map of Nicaragua Canal in SCMP's article

Map of Nicaragua Canal in SCMP’s article

Lots of Chinese people have been active in Africa but there have not been much success of them becoming rich and prosperous. Moreover the living conditions are not good there.

Latin America is perhaps a better place for Chinese people to prosper.

China is not so stupid as to follow the footsteps of Western colonialists and repeat their failure when China is now rich enough to develop abroad. It has learnt from the lessons of Chinese people’s success in Southeast Asia.

Those overseas Chinese left their homeland when China was too poor for them to find jobs for their survival. They have to leave China to try to make a living in Southeast Asia, a place too hot and humid for them to live. However, with the no money to start, the Chinese immigrants have made fortunes there and become so rich that they now control the economy in the countries they immigrated to.

Now, with a rich and strong motherland behind them, Chinese people are busy everywhere in the world, Russia’s Siberia, Africa and even Canada and Australia.

However, China’s pattern of development abroad is quite different from Western colonialism, not even American neocolonialism. Chinese people prosper in helping local people develop their economy. Quite a few Southeast Asian countries tried to drive rich overseas Chinese away when China is a communist country and the pro-Beijing overseas Chinese might be a political threat but found that they could not as overseas Chinese were indispensable for their economy.

Now, Siberia is too cold while Africa is too hot with lots of health hazards while Canada and Australia are too developed for Chinese people to start from nothing. Latin America has the best potential for Chinese people to prosper in helping local people develop their economy.

That is why China has been building the Nicaragua Canal there. It will provide China with a strong foothold for entry into Latin America. The project seems not viable now but we shall have vision. China’s trade with Latin America is not much to need such a canal now but the trade is growing fast and may become very big if those countries grow rich with the help of Chinese immigrants and their investment.

As Latin America is regarded by the US as its backyard, China has to be very careful; therefore, the company doing the huge project worth $50 billion is a private one. SCMP says in its article today titled “Sink or swim: Hong Kong company defies the doomsayers on Nicaragua Canal project”, “The project has faced strong opposition from residents, ecologists, human rights activists and economists, as social and environmental concerns continue to grow. On top of that, doubts about the financial viability of the project have surfaced in recent months after the company’s chairman, Wang Jing, reportedly lost about 80 per cent of his fortune following the Chinese stock market crash. His net worth of US$10.2 billion plunged to US$1.1 billion, Bloomberg reported in October.

Wong certainly cannot afford the project, but China can and will as the project is worth much more than $50 billion politically.

We still remember that when China bought the hull of a Russian aircraft carrier from Ukraine which was later turned into China’s first aircraft carrier the Liaoning, it had a private entrepreneur to buy it alleging that he would turn the hull into a theme park for tourism. US politicians certainly have the vision to know China’s true intention and had made every effort to prevent the hull from being towed to China. The transportation cost exceeds $100 million much more than the price of the hull at $20 million.

No wonder the US will make every effort to make the canal project a failure by instigating local people and environment activists to protest against the project and predicting the failure of project to scare potential investors away from the project.

However, Chinese government is rich enough to ensure the success of the project. Even if there is no such project, China has too large a population. It is unavoidable that lots of Chinese will go abroad to find opportunities. With a strong motherland behind them, they are unstoppable, especially in Latin America that the US regards as its backyard but has not been able to make itself popular there.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s article on Nicaragua Canal. Full text of the SCMP article can be viewed at


One Comment on “Nicaragua Canal, China’s Foothold in Latin America”

  1. Joseph says:

    This article is really clueless. Although it is not always easy to open up new frontiers, the Chinese are always resilient. Being a Chinese Overseas myself, I know what my forebears went through to open new frontiers. In fact, I am going through it, and I expect my descendants to continue my tradition. The Nanyang, spanning from SE Asia to Hawaii, was opened by Chinese Overseas. It was harsh and unforgiving place, but we are thriving on challenges. Over millenia, trading posts developed into cities, all touched by Chinese culture to form hybrid cultures. The only disadvantage we had was that the Chinese imperial authority took no interest on us. As the result, tiny European power came and ruled over us and became giant themselves. Western history boasted that they ‘discovered’ Australia with our map, while actually we did. We discovered Australia to get sea cucumber and bird nest. The European used their military power to coerce their way, while we did not believe military power is good. Unlike the European, we believe good relationship with locals were more effective than coercive military power. In the end I didn’t matter, the European used their bullying power and they used us to interact with the locals. This is the drawback that should be rectified by modern China. China as a world power should be involved to support us, and us to support them. China should realize that peaceful coexistence with hostile power must be back by strong military. It is Western way to project power, like it or not China must adapt or be left behind. Recent event after WW2 and the American SCS pivot have made us realize that we have to rectify our way too. We used to shun military, now we are more open to suggestion of mercenary to protect ourselves, just like what the Westerners do. As the Earth was fully mapped, there’s little new frontiers to open up. We often joked about which frontier should we open next, going to space, underground or underwater. The building of artificial islands actually gave us ideas. Perhaps we will colonize the ocean, even underwater and space. It’s certainly an exciting challenge that for the moment are still out of reach for us. But if such harsh places are to be conquered, it will be by the Chinese, not European. We have the proven resilient and tenacity. While wherever the European came, the community and environment suffers. Of course, as in life, there are winners and losers. Not everyone is successful in the frontiers, but it is by no way to be no cause to whine. I believe building canal in Nicaragua should have nothing to do with climate but strategic thing to do.