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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

BRI – THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

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It is good to be back

After a prolonged break due to ill-health, I am pleased to return to writing regularly about China and also about Dispute Resolution.
Re China my goal is not to join those critics of China who seek always to undermine the China of today with a constant trail of misrepresentation and negative comments but instead to use my knowledge acquired since 1965 – the first of my 100+ visits to China to provide a more balanced and informed comment on China and its growing importance in world affairs. One example makes my point.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative has received mainly negative comments from Western commentators. They accuse China of lending large sums to developing countries with sinister intent – to lull the recipient countries to over-borrow and place themselves in substantial debt thereby enabling China to seize the assets of the debtor nation. China, the critics argue, is not interested in promoting growth and development in the recipient country choosing only to create debt dependency and facilitate asset seizure.

A new study released this week by the China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) at Johns Hopkins University provides a quite different story. For the 46 low-income nations that sought Debt relief for their unpaid borrowing, China contributed 63 per cent of debt service suspensions, despite holding only 30 per cent of the claims.

The world wide consequences of Covid has seen recipient nations increasingly unable to meet their repayment obligations. Two possibilities for China arose. The first is to do what the West has predicted China would do and seize assets. But it has not happened. Instead, China has allowed the recipient countries to defer their repayment obligations. There is no evidence of any asset seizure according to the American John Hopkins University which has been monitoring the Belt and Road Initiative since its inception in 2013.

You have to search hard to find the truth about China such is the scale of the misreporting indulged in by the Western media. My approach will continue to take into account the allegations of genocide in Xinjiang; the true legal status of Taiwan; the contrasting Western and Chinese attitudes to the Cultural Revolution; the Tiananmin Killings of 1989 and other topics so often raised by China’s critics to justify the wholesale dismissal of China’s success in turning the Sick Man of Asia of 1949 into the one of the most prosperous countries in the world today.

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