The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has responded to recent accusations that Beijing’s much vaunted Belt and Road Initiative primarily serves China’s strategic interests by leaving participating nations heavily indebted to it.
The Belt and Road Initiative lies at the centre of the Xi administration’s foreign policy framework, seeking to create a pan-Eurasian trade block via lavish investment in local infrastructure projects.
A number of outside observers claim, however, that the initiative is a front for advancing China’s strategic interests by expanding its status as a creditor to countries in the region.
The head of the Asian Development Bank recently warned that Belt and Road could ensnare emerging nations in a “debt trap,” while a recent study from Harvard has claimed that China is using “debtbook diplomacy to expand is strategic clout by providing exorbitant volumes of credit to developing economies in the Asia-Pacific.
The Chinese foreign ministry has since responded to these accusations at a routine press conference held on 24 May.
“The Western press has recently given incessant attention to the notion of a Chinese ‘debt trap,’ while at the same time senior official from many countries in Asia, Africa and the Asia-Pacific have made a range of different statements on the matter, indicating that Chinese investment and loans bring ‘major benefits’ for the social development of their own nations.
“For example, a Philippines finance official expressed confidence that Chinese investment brought greater benefits to the people than spending on the projects themselves.
“The chief official for Panama’s economic and finance ministry’s investment plan said that Panama has not met with a so-called debt crisis as a result of Chinese investment, and in future this is unlikely to occur. Panama has a very strong trust of Chinese enterprises and Chinese investment.
“The head of the Silkroad International Bank in Djibouti said that Chinese investment has not produced a debt crisis, and it’s simply the case that cooperation between China and Djibouti has caused some European and American enterprises to lose certain opportunities.
“The so-called ‘debt trap’ is nothing more than the voice of envy.”