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Thursday, July 29, 2021

“BELT + ROAD IS NOT DEBT DIPLOMACY”

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Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON #228 23 MAY 2021

China proposed BRI in 2013 to improve connectivity + cooperation on a transcontinental scale. It focuses on the construction of ports, highways, airports, + infrastructure investment. As of January 2021, 140 countries have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China + China’s total BRI investment approaches $4tn.

The US has dismissed BRI as an “asset grab” by an avaricious China intent on lulling the recipient country into debt. Once in debt, the US alleges, China takes control of assets.

Wrong for 2 reasons;-
1. There are no reports of any asset grab as a consequence of recipient countries failing to make loan repayments due to Covid-19

2. Sri Lanka + the $1.5bn Hambantota Port is always cited as evidence of a “debt trap”. It is, therefore, noteworthy that Sri Lankan President, Rajapska, said on 20 May 2021 “The Hambantota Port is not a debt trap”. It is a “commercially viable project” and is “transforming Sri Lanka’s overall port infrastructure. His comments followed praise of a 2nd BRI funded project – the “Port City” project off the coast of Colombo on an artificial island to create an international financial + business special economic zone.

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