India had alleged that China and Pakistan were behind the ongoing protests by farmers in India (thousands of farmers have been protesting since November against three laws that the government claims are aimed at liberalizing the agriculture sector). Pakistan rejected New Delhi’s claim.
China’s International Development Cooperation Is A Stunning Success
14 JANUARY 2021
One of the most significant chapters in China’s newly released white paper concerns its support of developing countries’ endogenous growth, which crucially contradicts the US’ information warfare narrative that Beijing is laying so-called “debt traps” for its partners.
Xinhua reported on Sunday that China’s State Council Information Office released a 43-page white paper on “China’s International Development Cooperation in the New Era” showcasing the country’s stunning successes in a variety of spheres. The New Era began after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012 after Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a global perspective to his country’s historical international development cooperation programs through the unveiling of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and Beijing’s plans to build a global community of shared future.
This period of time has been monumental for the world because it saw the establishment of what the document describes as the “unparalleled level of interconnection and interdependence among countries”. China expanded upon its civilizational ideal of promoting universal harmony and the past six decades of its existing international development cooperation to take the lead as the world’s greatest promoter of South-South cooperation, which is a role commensurate with its status as the largest developing country and a consistently responsible actor in global affairs.
The many accomplishments enumerated in the white paper are too plentiful to mention in the present analysis but can be summarized as comprehensively encompassing the full spectrum of state-to-state cooperation. Not only does this include the traditional sphere of hard infrastructure projects like railroads and ports, but also soft ones like vocational training programs, healthcare, and cultural cooperation. Other important dimensions to point out include policy coordination, promotion of clean energy, humanitarian assistance, support for the digital economy, eco-environmental protection, agricultural assistance, and institutional integration, et al.
About the last-mentioned example, institutional integration, attention should be drawn to China’s steady support of regional connectivity. The liberalization of customs and trade regimes, as well as China’s dovetailing of BRI with the development strategies of participating countries, has resulted in the creation of new platforms for facilitating this. Some prominent examples of this in practice are the efforts currently underway to link BRI with Mongolia’s Development Road program, Kazakhstan’s Bright Road initiative, the EU’s Europe-Asia connectivity strategy, Pakistan’s Naya (New) Pakistan vision, and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
In stark contrast to the US under outgoing President Trump, China is very proud of the fact that its international development cooperation contributes to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Beijing has helped its partners in the Global South greatly reduce poverty, ensure food security, improve their healthcare systems, provide quality education to their people, and support gender equality, among many other beneficial outcomes. The People’s Republic also helps all of its partners respond to global humanitarian challenges such as famines, public health risks like the COVID-19 pandemic, and migrant and refugee crises.
One of the most significant chapters in China’s newly released white paper concerns its support of developing countries’ endogenous growth, which crucially contradicts the US’ information warfare narrative that Beijing is laying so-called “debt traps” for its partners. To the contrary, China is helping them to improve their governance, promote technological progress, is transferring advanced technologies to them, and building their vocational skills. The country is also educating its partners’ people and inviting them to participate in conferences and other people-to-people events hosted by the People’s Republic on a regular basis.
The impression that one receives after reading this very detailed white paper enumerating the many accomplishments of China’s international development cooperation in the new era is that the largest developing country in the world is the most reliable partner of its Global South counterparts. China is selflessly sharing the secrets of its own economic miracles with everyone else in order to build a global community of shared future that will improve people’s lives. It’s respectful of its partners’ interests and flexibly adapts to their needs through diverse forms of cooperation. With China’s support, the Global South will surely keep rising.
The Future Of The Belt & Road Initiative In The Dual Circulation Era
11 DECEMBER 2020
China’s new development paradigm of dual circulation is not a repudiation of its prior BRI-driven model of globalization, but is actually complementary to it. Observers shouldn’t forget that many of the hundreds of billions of dollars of BRI-related loans are for long-term infrastructure investments.
The Financial Times published an article on Tuesday titled “China curtails overseas lending in face of geopolitical backlash”. It reported on a recent study by researchers at Boston University which found that the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China only lent $4 billion last year compared to $75 in 2016. The outlet then relies heavily on a report from thepartially US government-funded“Overseas Development Institute” and a Chatham House expert to editorialize that this due to the alleged model of prioritizing Chinese interests over recipient countries’ and the “reputational damage” caused by Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) deals.
These interpretations are inaccurate and likely being promoted only to smear BRI. It’s also suspicious that the quoted Chatham House expert claimed without any evidence that the Chinese public is pressuring decision makers to curtail international lending in order to focus on revitalizing the domestic healthcare industry after COVID-19. The fact of the matter is that China’s healthcare system succeeded in containing the pandemic and saving countless lives. While every system in any country across the world continually seeks to improve, China’s has proven itself to be far superior to most of its peers in this respect, so that point is a propagandist one.
The only other element of value in the Financial Times’ article besides the statistics that they cited in the introduction was the explanation provided by Kevin Gallagher, director of the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, which compiled the data. He attributed this drastic decline in international lending to the US’ trade war against China. That development was the first serious structural change in the global economy since the end of the Cold War, hence why his theory that China wanted to keep dollar assets at home because of the prevailing uncertainty makes a lot of sense.
Still, these observations raise questions about BRI’s future, but there’s actually nothing to be worried about even if China’s international lending remains low for the foreseeable future. The global economy is in the midst of crisis due to the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19, and certain protectionist trends have proliferated to the point of becoming commonplace in many countries. That doesn’t mean that the era of globalization is over, but just that it’s presently undergoing a transformation, and it might still take some time for the entire world to recover to the pre-COVID-19 status quo.
As these complex processes unfold, China also recently unveiled its new development paradigm of dual circulationwhereby domestic and international circulation will be equally prioritized. This pragmatic policy will enable the world’s largest marketplace to flexibly react to the forthcoming shocks that are expected to continue shaking the global economy during this era of uncertainty. It is not, however, a repudiation of its prior BRI-driven model of globalization, but is actually complementary to it. Observers shouldn’t forget that many of the hundreds of billions of dollars of BRI-related loans are for long-term infrastructure investments.
Many of these have yet to fully materialize, such as those connected to BRI’s flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has already attracted at least $60 billion worth of investments, but their projected implementation is such that they should all be completed by the end of the decade at the latest. That should be more than enough time for the global economy to recover, prior to which Pakistan and China’s other BRI partners will continue to develop as they finish constructing their planned large-scale infrastructure projects. These will in turn enable them to increase their exports to the growing Chinese economy.
The dual circulation paradigm wouldn’t be possible without BRI, and all BRI countries will benefit from this new development paradigm since they’ll have greater access to the Chinese economy. While China’s international lending might remain low as it prioritizes more domestic projects, the seeds that hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of BRI investments have planted across the world will continue to grow in the interim, thus mutually reinforcing each other’s economies. As China grows, so does the world, and vice-versa, with BRI being the bridge connecting them all together towards the ultimate goal of a community of shared future for mankind.
CHINA:Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, 20% of BRI projects had been “seriously affected” by the virus, with up to 40% being “somewhat affected”. All countries involved in the BRI have seen construction and supply chains halted or slowed by the pandemic. The largest decline in BRI investments was in energy investments.
IRAQ:Skirmishes between the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and forces from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) have raised fears of a full-blown conflict in northern Iraq. The PKK has come under growing pressure from Turkey, who has built a close working relationship with KRG, with an oil pipeline allowing Iraqi-Kurdish authorities to market their oil exports independently of the federal government in Baghdad.
QATAR AND SAUDI ARABIA:Qatar and Saudi Arabia are close to striking a preliminary agreement to end a dispute that has pitted the Gulf neighbours against each other for more than three years. The expected deal comes after United States visit to the Gulf region, before the Trump administration leaves office in January.
EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN:Outgoing US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo took aim at Turkey, decrying Ankara for compounding tensions with other allies in the Mediterranean (and for buying a Russian-made anti-aircraft system).
NIGERIA: The Nigerian Army denounced that “there is an international conspiracy to cut Nigeria to size and compromise national renegades making attempts to destabilize and dismember Nigeria, if possible, in subservience to the international paymasters, who are the owners of Boko Haram”.
TAIWAN-US: Taiwan and the US are moving ahead with a plan to finance infrastructure and energy projects in Asia (and Latin America) to counter China’s global infrastructure BRI, amid concerns about Beijing’s commitment to international projects and worsening finances among developing countries.
PAKISTAN:China reaffirmed its support to Pakistan in fighting terrorist forces and stressed that any scheme to sabotage the building of an economic corridor linking the two countries will not succeed. Pakistani Foreign Minister said Indian intelligence agents were targeting development projects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
China’s BRI progress has showed strong resilience despite coronavirus. Major projects are progressing smoothly. China-Laos railway, China-Thailand railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, and Hungary-Serbia Railway are all making positive headway. The China-Europe freight rail service network has also expanded, reaching 21 countries and 92 cities.
MALAYSIA:Another Belt and Road project was canceled in Malaysia, after the government of the Malaysian state of Melaka terminated an agreement with the main developer of a BRI infrastructure project Melaka Gateway, raising questions about BRI future projects in the country.
REGIONAL:Central Asian NGOs experts are calling on their governments to strengthen oversight of Belt and Road Initiative projects as anger rises over their environmental and social impacts. Chinese investment in the region has mainly been in infrastructure and extractive industries, attracted by the region’s mineral deposits and hydrocarbons.