Chinese billionaire Wang Jing has been granted a 50-year concession in Nicaragua in which to build an Atlantic/Pacific canal, because Panama’s was far too mainstream. Wang, who heads a Hong Kong-based infrastructure group, has announced plans to begin construction in 2014 and finish by 2020.
The canal will cost some US$40 billion dollars, but that’s not even the hardest part. Nicaragua still recognizes Taipei as the capital of China, and it’s really awkward, as South China Morning Post reports:
Nicaragua switched diplomatic recognition from Beijing to Taipei in 1990.[…]
Wang Jing, 41, said the project was “strictly commercial”.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing also stressed it was not a government-backed project. Still, given the delicate nature of the project and the relationship between Nicaragua, Beijing and Taipei, it could have wide geopolitical implications.
Nicaragua is one of the 23 countries that recognise Taipei instead of Beijing. The tour happened three weeks after Nicaraguan foreign minister Samuel Santos Lopez angered Taipei when he referred to Taiwan as China-Taiwan in a statement.
Delegation member Francisco Telemaco Talavera Siles, the president of the National Council of Universities, said: “We are in a special moment in China and in Nicaragua. We are starting a new historical phase that is going to see closer relations.”
If/when the canal is completed, it will be 178 miles long; way bigger than Panama’s sad, forgotten 48-mile trickle.
[Image of Wang Jing meeting Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, via Phys.org]