"Thank you, Hu Jintao, and thank you, China," said Hugo Chavez, as he announced a $20 billion loan from Beijing, to be repaid in Venezuelan oil.
The Chinese just threw Chavez a life-preserver. For Venezuela is reeling from 25 percent inflation, government-induced blackouts to cope with energy shortages and an economy that shrank by 3.3 percent in 2009.
Where did China get that $20 billion? From us. From consumers at Wal-Mart. That $20 billion is 1 percent of the $2 trillion in trade surpluses Beijing has run up with the United States over two decades. Beijing is using its trillions of dollars in reserves, piled up from exports to America, to cut deals to lock up strategic resources for the coming struggle with the United States for hegemony in Asia and the world.
She has struck multibillion-dollar deals with Sudan, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Russia, Iran and Australia to secure a steady supply of oil, gas and vital minerals to maintain the 10-12 percent annual growth China has been racking up since Deng Xiaoping dispensed with Maoism and set his nation out on the capitalist road.
China has dozens of nuclear power plants under construction, has completed the Three Gorges Dam -- the largest power source on earth -- and is tying the nation together with light rail, bullet trains and highways in infrastructure projects unlike any the world has ever seen.
Contrast what China is doing with what we are about. We have declared vast regions of our country, onshore and offshore, off-limits to drilling for oil and gas. We have not built a nuclear power plant in 30 years or a refinery in 25 years. We have declared war on fossil fuels to save the planet from global warming.
Given the power of the environmental lobby to tie up projects in endless litigation, we could never today build our Interstate Highway System, Hoover Dam, the TVA or the Union Pacific Railroad.
Determined to take America's title as the world's first manufacturing nation, as she has taken Germany's title as the world's leading exporter, China keeps her currency undervalued and demands of those who sell to China that they also produce in China. As America's share of the world economy steadily falls, China's share has doubled. This year, China will overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy.