China’s BRI is often accused of creating unsustainable debt-for-infrastructure deals across the world. Discuss in light of debt-trap diplomacy of China.

China’s Belt & Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure project by China aimed at reviving the ancient maritime & terrestrial silk route.

BRI – unsustainable debt-for-infrastructure deals:

  • Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port leased to china for 100 years. There is also a role of China’s BRI in Sri Lanka’s current economic crisis.
  • Maldives also lost one of its port to china.
  • China funded highways in Europe that were found to be financially unviable according to several independent studies.
  • Projects in Africa have led to loss of assets to China.

BRI – Part of debt trap diplomacy:

  • Unstable Debt – Many BRI source countries owe an unviable percentage of their GDP as debt to China.
  • Lack of accompanying funds for training and capacity building services.
  • Lack of transparency in projects funded by China.
  • Clauses for handing over infrastructure to China in case of failed payments.
  • High rate of interest as compared to development finances.
  • Information asymmetry.

Thus BRI is seen as a part of China’s debt trap & its larger string of pearls strategy aimed at winning strategic locations & encircling India from all sides.

Way Forward:

  • Alternate forums such as Blue Dot Network of USA, Japan, Australia.
  • Strengthen multilateral developmental banks such as WB, ADB, etc.
  • International pressure on China for transparency in funding mechanism.

Rise of Asian century & India’s role as net security provider need active intervention against above strategy.

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