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China to Build $40-Billion Canal Through Nicaragua

66d12bb69f265d6d94b7397177f8aa16_XLNicaraguan President Daniel Ortega appears to be back on track with closing a deal for Communist China to begin building an inter-oceanic waterway to rival the Panama Canal. The South China Morning Post, on October 29, reported:

A top-level Nicaraguan delegation — headed by the president’s son — traveled to mainland China and Hong Kong last week to discuss what could be the world’s largest waterway project, the South China Morning Post has learned.

The 21 politicians, academics and leading businessmen were hosted by HKND, the Hong Kong-based developer established only last year, which has been tasked by the Nicaraguan government to build a $40-billion (HK$310-billion) canal through the Central American country.

Laureno Facundo Ortega Murillo, the son of Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega, led the group, which travelled to Beijing, Wuhan, Xuzhou, and Hong Kong.

In June of this year, President Ortega, who leads the Marxist-Leninist Sandinista party (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, or FSLN) and is a leader of the São Paulo Forum, an international consortium of terrorists and terrorist-supporting states, signed a deal for the ambitious canal project with Wang Jing (shown), CEO of Hong Kong Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND), a mysterious new Chinese company that claims to be privately owned and independent of the Chinese government. But, as with virtually all Chinese companies, HKND remains opaque and refuses to reveal financial data, governing structure, and stock holdings that are routinely publicly available from companies in market economies. Wang Jing himself is similarly an enigma wrapped in a mystery. One of China’s new billionaires, Wang, reported to be 41 years old, amassed his wealth as CEO of Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, which manufactures wireless devices, telecom terminals, and core network devices.

“Wang has business interests in infrastructure, mining, aviation and telecommunications, according to HKND’s website,” Bloomberg News reported earlier this year. “He controls or serves as board chairman of more than 20 companies in 35 countries around the world, the website shows.” However, the Bloomberg article noted, “Wang pledged transparency for the project but gave very few details about his own background. He refused to answer a reporter’s question about where he attended school.”

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“I am 100 per cent certain the construction will begin in December 2014 and we will finish in five years in 2019,” Wang was quoted as saying in a July 30 report in London’s Telegraph. However, within a few days of that rosy prediction, the project was engulfed in controversy and uncertainty, as opposition coalesced in Nicaragua over concerns that the project was being rushed through without proper feasibility and environmental studies being completed. The 178-mile route that Wang has announced as the path for the waterway is actually one of six proposed options, each of which has its own engineering, economic, social, and environmental challenges. Nicaraguan opponents — including prominent Sandinistas — were angered that Wang had jumped the gun and announced a specific route as a done deal, causing a political backlash against Maximum Leader Ortega, including street demonstrations and denunciations in the national legislature.

The recent delegation visit led by the junior Ortega was an obvious attempt to smooth the troubled waters and keep the project (and its funding) rolling. Wang’s Xinwei corporate website carried a brief press release on October 28, putting a happy face on the visit and prospects for the canal venture. The release stated:

During the extension from Oct 19 to Oct 26, 2013, at the invitation of Mr. Wang Jing, President and Chairman of Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group (hereinafter referred to as “Xinwei”), the Nicaraguan delegation composed of 20 plus high-level representatives from various walks of life paid a visit to China and both sides conducted cheerful exchanges. The delegation fully recognized and highly praised the fruits made by HK Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. LTD (hereinafter referred to as HKND GROUP), and reckoned that various societies in Nicaragua will fully support Xinwei and HKND GROUP in their businesses in Nicaragua and better facilitate the building of Xinwei Telecom Network and the Grand Canal. During the visit, President Wang met with members of the delegation and was present in relevant activities.

The Xinwei release also provided five photographs of the Nicaraguan delegation at Xinwei and HKND headquarters and other venues, including a group photo of Ortega and his fellow Nicaraguans with Wang Jing.

“We are in a special moment in China and in Nicaragua,” said delegation member Francisco Telemaco Talavera Siles, president of the National Council of Universities. “We are starting a new historical phase that is going to see closer relations,” he told the South China Morning Post. “This project opens [up] the possibility of closer relations with the government and people of China.”

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The dream of a canal through Nicaragua has captured the minds of men for generations and Nicaragua was a top contender to the path that was eventually selected in Panama. How the Nicaraguan canal — if and when it is completed — would impact the competitiveness of the Panama Canal (which is undergoing a multi-billion-dollar expansion and update) is the subject of much debate.

Source: The New American

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