The former governor of the Chinese central bank has addressed accusations that China’s much vaunted Belt and Road Initiative perpetrates a form of debt-trap diplomacy upon participating nations.
Speaking at the 2020 Bund Summit in Shanghai on 24 October Zhou Xiaochuan, former head of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and current head of the China Financial Forum, said that the Belt and Road Initiative was “not at all the debt trap that certain western countries have described.”
“The number of developing countries for which China is the primary creditor is not at all numerous,” said Zhou. “Again the backdrop of the novel coronavirus pandemic, we have actively launched and are participating in a G20 debt alleviation plan.”
Zhou said that China instead wanted to use the Belt and Road Initiative to “teach people how to fish,” as opposed “give them fish.”
“At present certain opinions hold that solely providing developing countries with funds or debt alleviation is sufficient,” said Zhou. “In actuality, what’s more important is helping them to expedite macro-economic development, properly undertake infrastructure development and set the foundations for long-term growth.
“There are many people internationally who sing loudly of the need to alleviate property, but what does poverty alleviation actually mean? Does it means deliveries of food and debt cancellations, or should it focus more upon the creation of capability.”
Zhou also stressed the need for developing countries to “jointly call for multi-lateralism, free trade and ease of investment” to support global economic countries.