According to a new report released on Wednesday, China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is in danger of losing momentum as resistance grows in target nations and debts build, clearing the door for competing projects to force Beijing out.
President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, with the goal of using China’s capabilities in financing and infrastructure building to “create a wide community of common interests” throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
However, according to a study conducted by AidData, a research lab at the College of William and Mary in the United States, Xi’s “project of the century” is now facing huge hurdles and substantial criticism overseas.
“A growing number of policymakers in low- and middle-income countries are mothballing high profile BRI projects because of overpricing, corruption and debt sustainability concerns,” said Brad Parks, one of the study’s authors.
According to AidData, $11.58 billion in Malaysian projects have been cancelled between 2013 and 2021, with over $1.5 billion cancelled in Kazakhstan and more than $1 billion cancelled in Bolivia.
In a statement, China’s foreign ministry stated that “not all loans are unsustainable,” and that the BRI has “consistently followed concepts of shared consultation, shared contributions, and shared benefits” since its inception.
According to several partner countries, the programme has contributed positively to local economic growth.
According to He Lingxiao, a spokesman for the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which is closely tied to the BRI, “the overarching concepts of the BRI are sound.”
“How these principles will be translated into operational reality is where we advocate for high international standards,” He said.
The AidData research examined 13,427 China-backed projects in 165 countries over an 18-year period, totaling $843 billion, and found that Beijing’s annual international development funding commitments are now twice those of the US.
However, substantial shifts in public opinion make it difficult for participating nations to retain tight ties with Beijing, according to Parks.
According to the report, a growing number of China-backed projects have been halted or cancelled since the BRI’s inception in 2013, with indications of “buyer’s remorse” in countries as diverse as Kazakhstan, Costa Rica, and Cameroon.
Credit risks have also grown, with several low- and middle-income countries now having exposure to Chinese debt that exceeds 10% of GDP.
According to the report, 35% of Belt and Road projects were plagued by corruption, unfair labor practices, environmental degradation, and public demonstrations.
In June, the United States proposed a competing G7 effort, Build Back Better World (B3W), to give financial assistance to developing countries for infrastructure development. more info
“B3W is going to increase choice in the infrastructure financing market, which could lead to some high-profile BRI defections,” Parks said.
AidData’s research was supported by a wide range of corporate and public institutions, including the Ford Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
It claims that its research is independent and transparent, and that it is neither influenced or decided by its patrons.
(Adapted from NewsPolo.com)