NEW DELHI: What has been achieved in the past 10 years demonstrates that Belt and Road cooperation is on the right side of history. It represents the advancing of our times, and it is the right path forward. We need to remain clear-eyed and undisturbed in a volatile world
At the third Belt and Road forum, which was held after a gap of four years, Xi Jinping claimed that his signature project launched a decade ago was on the right track.
According to official Chinese data, as of June this year, China had signed over 200 Belt and Road cooperation agreements with 152 countries and 32 international organizations.
Over the past decade, Chinese loans or equity investments in BRI projects have been a trillion dollar with a large chunk pumped into the energy sector, which explains China’s foray into resource-rich Africa and the oil-rich Arab world.
Goods worth about 19 trillion dollars have been traded between China and BRI countries in the past decade. With less transparency in terms and conditions of loans extended by Chinese banks, many projects have pushed small and developing countries into debt traps, defaults and even parting with state assets.
Sri Lanka had to lease out its Hambantota port on lease for 99 years. The China-Pakistan economic corridor has led to less prosperity but more economic turmoil to an economy that’s already in bad shape.
According to a report released by AidData, an international development research lab, by the end of last month 165 countries owed at least 385 billion dollars to China which funded their projects.
This report further states that 42 countries owe more than 10 percent of their GDP to China.
Italy, the only G7 nation on the BRI bandwagon, has said it was mulling whether to pull out as it feels the move hasn’t been sufficiently beneficial economically.
And with the Chinese economy not doing too well either. Xi says the way forward is practical cooperation and that small yet smart projects will also be promoted.