2019 MAY 24 The Debt Trap of One Belt, One Road: The Price of Following China


Chinese workers help to build a new train station in Beliatta, Sri Lanka which is Chinese managed and designed on Nov. 18, 2018 (Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)


Countries that abandoned Beijing after the initial “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) summit in 2017 have re-congregated under the Chinese flag in mutual support of its second summit event.

This includes new member Switzerland, as well as Malaysia and Myanmar, which previously complained to the United States and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that investing in China caused them to fall into a “debt trap.”

Countries Submit Their Allegiance

Compared with the first summit in May 2017, the second summit has several points of attraction.

First, countries have adjusted their expectations of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Although there is a general expectation for large amounts of CCP funding, the estimates are far more realistic than the 2017 target.

During the first summit in 2017, China’s foreign exchange reserves were falling sharply, and on May 4, Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, published an article in a Chinese financial magazine.


The Main Points WereInvestment and financial cooperation for OBOR isn’t unilateral financial support, but requires all parties to jointly build a common-interest community to share the expenditures, risks, and benefits. At the same time, emphasis must be placed on market-based financing and active use of the Chinese yuan to generate more in local savings and international capital.

To put it bluntly, China said that future investment should make the Chinese yuan the main source of capital and OBOR partners should make joint investments. That was disappointing to countries that came with hopes of seeking the support of the U.S. dollar. That sparked a 2017 international incident: OBOR countries called for an end to the Chinese project, claimed to the IMF that China had increased their debts, demanded that the IMF provide assistance, and finally, convinced the United States to support a narrative that OBOR created a “debt trap” for participating countries.

With these experiences, the expectations of participating countries for the second summit weren’t as high as the first, with many countries just testing the waters. The attitude of Italy is typical: as long as China has money, it’s fine.


The second summit also included a number of important new members. Two European countries, Italy and Switzerland, attended. Italy is the first G-7 member country to participate in the OBOR program, and the symbolism is self-evident.

Switzerland’s participation is even more important. An article published by the BBC a day before the summit has a clear understanding of this. First, Switzerland has the most prestigious financial services industry in the world; secondly, Switzerland is home to numerous international organizations. For China, Switzerland’s unique “neutral” political status is of paramount importance to OBOR. While Germany is dissatisfied with that, its problem with Italy isn’t so much in its participation. Rather, Germany insists on maintaining a position as a European leader, controlling the EU’s collective bargaining power.

Economic Cooperation in line with International Regulations

Third, the Chinese government has been very tactical in placing its focus on economic cooperation, and has promised to be in line with international regulations. These statements have given participating countries very good reasons to cooperate.

China launched the “One Belt, One Road” initiative in 2013. According to Refinitiv, the total value of the project is $3.7 trillion, spanning dozens of countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania, and South America. At the first OBOR summit, China had a sense of expansion, propagating the Chinese model, and espousing that China will become the new leader of globalization. That raised alarm in some countries.

During the trade war, the United States raised various criticisms questioning China’s “red expansion,” which also caused some OBOR countries to waver.

During the second summit, Beijing softened its tone and shifted its focus to resolving the doubts in various countries. For example, it proposed to conduct a joint study with the World Bank on environmental and social standards of OBOR. “Building a framework for debt sustainability analysis to prevent debt risk” was its explanation for concerns regarding OBOR’s transparency and ideology export.

The draft communiqué also clearly stated that the 37 global leaders attending the April 25-27 summit would reach an agreement on project financing issues, comply with global debt targets, and promote sustainable development.


Since October 2018, Malaysia and several other countries accused China of leading them into a “debt trap,” a criticism the United States shares. On Oct. 3, 2018, the U.S. Senate approved the Investments Leading to Development Act of 2018 (BUILD) by a vote of 93-6. Under the measure, the original Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and other development aid agencies will be integrated to form a new U.S. International Development Finance Corp.

The new agency, which is to receive $60 billion in funding, is responsible for providing assistance loans to developing countries for infrastructure projects, such as energy, ports, and water supply.

However, when it comes to using state resources, democratic countries are a lot more restricted and far less efficient than authoritarian states such China (efficiency that’s due to a disregard for people’s livelihoods).

Therefore, U.S. investment is only part of a plan, but China has actually put in real money. Countries all over the world are now facing a common problem; domestic unemployment.


For example, while Italy’s employment rate is now at its lowest in seven years, its youth unemployment rate at the end of 2018 was as high as almost 31 percent. The youth unemployment rate in Greece in January 2019 also remained at nearly 40 percent. To each country’s respective leader, what’s important isn’t helping rid the world of tyrannical rule, but solving its own employment problems.

Amid opposition from the EU’s major powers, Italy chose to cooperate with China unilaterally, an attitude based on realistic considerations: “From the windowsill of one’s home, this (China’s construction in the Italian port of Vado Ligure) is certainly not beautiful scenery, but it can bring jobs. So it is a good thing.”

For Vado Ligure, a town with a population of 8,000, Chinese investment has brought about 400 jobs, which has pleased both the local government and its residents. The mayor told Deutsche Welle that a strong investment partner is able to bring new opportunities and new capital.

At the same time, under the control of a series of treaties, contracts, and regulations, there is no need to worry that Chinese capital will cause issues of debt or labor rights violations. “The Chinese are not a problem. They bring money, and are greatly welcomed,” the mayor said. It’s the same principle for Croatia, Nigeria, and other countries. Money is the most important link for China in maintaining relations with countries.


Two years ago, Sri Lanka, due to an inability to repay Chinese loans related to the construction of the port of Hambantota, leased the entire port to China for a period of 99 years.

This incident has been criticized as a classic case of the OBOR debt trap, and it appears that countries seem to have forgotten the market principle of debt repayment. Actually digging back, this kind of thinking has its roots.


Western media is left-leaning and has always placed a priority on value systems. The importance of the economy, and especially the role of the United States in the world economy has always been a little underemphasized. However, after Democrats won the majority in the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, socialist policies have become the preference of the Democratic Party, moving farther from the main topic of concern for U.S. voters.

Concerned, Western media often unconsciously cite a famous quote that Bill Clinton used to defeat incumbent President George H.W. Bush in the 1992 campaign: “It’s the economy, stupid!”


I thus wish to use this opportunity to remind left-wing politicians around the world that only by “playing economics” can they win voters. In fact, this truth applies not only to the politics of all countries in the world, but also the reason why countries are rushing into China’s OBOR debt trap. Because only by obtaining China’s money can they have the capital to play economics at home and attract voters.

Originally, economic development was a country’s personal matter. But after World War II, the state of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union caused other countries to become accustomed to a “following” approach: in addition to ideological reasons, each country (especially countries without very strong ideologies) could choose a side and receive financial assistance of a major economy.

Many small- and medium-sized countries have no methods for developing their economies, but made use of U.S.–Soviet contention to play political “seesaw.” They would stand on whichever side gave more benefits. The United States, since World War II, has assumed the public good of maintaining international order, believing it to be the embodiment of their own “soft power.” Other countries also take it for granted that this is the United States’ responsibility, and don’t feel a need to give thanks.

On the other hand, China is very aware of the power of money, and has been using it to wrestle relations within the United Nations. It has fully demonstrated the important influence money has on developing countries in human rights affairs.

Remnant of Cold War Model

According to the official statistics of the Chinese Communist Party, as of March 2019, China has signed different cooperation agreements with 125 countries. These countries account for 36 percent of the world’s GDP and 60 percent of the world’s total population. Are such strenuous efforts really just for winning business opportunities?

Of course not.

During the second OBOR summit, China did a lot of explanatory work to quell doubts of the outside world. Countries have accepted China’s explanations, believing that Beijing’s use of comprehensive transportation and infrastructure to bring the continents of Europe and Asia closer is beneficial to deepening trade and human contact.

But these countries understand the geostrategic significance of OBOR: the purpose is to establish a system with China as the core, causing countries to, in the process of cooperation with China, establish a high dependence on Beijing. Through the implementation of OBOR, China would have the right to formulate rules and regulations, and reshape the global structure.



Countries also understand that the United States has long expressed dissatisfaction with that plan. The U.S. strategic community generally believes that the CCP’s continued promotion of OBOR construction mustn’t be ignored. It not only has the potential to change the Geo-economic and Geo-political balance of Eurasia, but also poses a real threat to the United States in fields such as technological standards, military security, and international development.

It even undermines the foundation of the global hegemony established by the United States since World War II. Therefore, the United States definitely won’t tolerate China’s strong challenges in this regard. The power struggle between the two superpowers will inevitably bring opportunities to many countries in the world seeking financial support.

As for the countries vying to jump into China’s “debt trap,” they are merely making a slight change to the new thinking of “depend on China for economic interests, depend on the United States for political security” formed by Asian countries post-Cold War, making a return to the Cold War-era seesaw model.

Situations such as that of mid-October 2018, when countries such as Malaysia cried out to the IMF and the United States, will inevitably reoccur, because complaining is also a way to sell the right to follow.

He Qinglian: is a prominent Chinese author and economist. Currently based in the United States, she authored “China’s Pitfalls,” which concerns corruption in China’s economic reform of the 1990s, and “The Fog of Censorship: Media Control in China,” which addresses the manipulation and restriction of the press. She regularly writes on contemporary Chinese social and economic issues. THE EPOCH TIMES QUALIFIER: Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2019  MAY 5/24 | Author: He Qinglian | Article Title: The Debt Trap of One Belt, One Road: The Price of Following China | Article Link: theepochtimes.com

Tags: 4cminewswire, BRI, OBOR, China, CCP, Yuan, Debt Trap, Geo-economic, Geopolitical, Global Hegemony, Italy, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, United States, 4cminews, #4CM2019MAY24,

Hashtag: #4cminewswire, #BRI, #OBOR, #China, #CCP, #Yuan, #DebtTrap, #Geoeconomic, #Geopolitical, #GlobalHegemony, #Italy, #Switzerland, #SriLanka, #UnitedStates, #4cminews, #4CM2019MAY24,

Full Text of Mark Taylor’s April 28, 2011 Trump Prophecy: (PDF)

The Spirit of God says I’ve chosen this man Donald Trump for such a time as this.

For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be to the United States of America, for I will use this man to bring honor, respect and restoration to America.

America will be respected once again as the most powerful, prosperous nation on Earth other than Israel.

The dollar will be the strongest it has ever been in the history of the United States and will once again be the currency by which all others are judged.

The Spirit of God says the enemy will quake and shake, and fear this man I have anointed.

They will even quake and shake when he announces he is running for President.

It will be like the shot heard across the world.

Then you will say what shall we do now?

This man knows all our tricks and schemes. We’ve been robbing America for decades. What should we do to stop this?

The Spirit says, ha, no one shall stop this that I have started, for the enemy has stolen from America for decades and it stops now.

For I will use this man to reap the harvest that the United States has sown for and plunder from the enemy what he has stolen, and return it back sevenfold to the United States.

The enemy will say, ‘Israel, Israel, what about Israel?’

Israel will be protected by America once again.

The Spirit says yes, America will once again stand hand in hand with Israel and the two shall be as one, for the ties between Israel and America will be stronger than ever and Israel will flourish like never before.

The Spirit of God says I will protect America and Israel, for this next President will be a man of his word.

When he speaks the world will listen and know that there is something greater in him than all the others before him.

This man’s word is his bond and the world and America will know this, and the enemy will fear this, for this man will be fearless.

The Spirit says when the financial harvest begins so shall the parallel in the spiritual for America.

The Spirit of God says in this next election they will spend billions to keep this president out.

It will be like money down the toilet.

Let them waste their money, for where it comes from is being used by evil forces at work, but they will not succeed.

This next election will be a clean sweep for the man that I have chosen.

They will say things about this man, the enemy, but it will not affect him and they will say it rolls off of him like a duck.

For even as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president.

Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities that I gift to him and they will even begin to agree with him, says the Spirit.”

– Mark Taylor

TRUMP (777)
… on the ingratiation Friday, January 20, 2017 was 70 years 7 months 7 Days Old.

2019 NOV 12 The US is Scrambling To Invest More in Asia To Counter China’s ‘Belt And Road’ Mega-Project.

Here’s what China’s plan to connect the world through infrastructure is like. 

  Map showing the projects subsumed under China’s Belt and Road Initiative as of December 2015. Reuters

The Belt and Road Initiative is one of China’s most ambitious projects.

It involves partnering with dozens of countries around the world through trade and infrastructure
…..projects, such as shipping lanes, railroads, and airports.

Supporters say it’s a way for China to invest in emerging markets and strengthen ties. Critics say
…..this is a way for China to use money to leverage political gains and increase its global power.

The US is now trying to create a viable alternative to the project by increasing investment in Asia.
….. Whether that will work, though, is not clear.

Learn more about the mega-project here.


China is undertaking what it considers the largest project of the century — linking itself with more than 100 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania through trade.

The main focuses of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — also known as “One Belt, One Road” — are in infrastructure, transportation, and energy. The initiative was first announced in 2013, and is seen to be President Xi Jinping’s pet project.

Most BRI deals involve China lending vast amounts of money to other countries to build new railroads, shipping lanes, and other ventures in those countries. Investment from China alone in the project is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $8 trillion.

Proponents of the BRI say it’s a way for China to invest in emerging markets and strengthen its ties with them. However, the inner workings of the BRI are shrouded in secrecy, and some projects have already been abandoned due to host countries being unable to pay back their loans.

Critics also say that by creating these loans, China is engaging in debt-trap diplomacy — a strategy of extracting political concessions out of a country that owes it money.Critics also say that by creating these loans, China is engaging in debt-trap diplomacy — a strategy of extracting political concessions out of a country that owes it money.Critics also say that by creating these loans, China is engaging in debt-trap diplomacy — a strategy of extracting political concessions out of a country that owes it money.

Critics also say that by creating these loans, China is engaging in debt-trap diplomacy — a strategy of extracting political concessions out of a country that owes it money.

The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive trade and infrastructure project that aims to link China to dozens of economies across Asia, Europe, Africa, and Oceania.

Chinese President Xi Jinping speaks at a BRI forum in Beijing, China, in May 2017. Nicolas Asfouri/Pool/Reuters

IT CONSISTS OF TWO PARTS: the “belt,” which recreates an old Silk Road land route, and the “road,” which is not actually a road, but a route through various oceans.

The Silk Road was an ancient land route across Europe and Asia that connected traders and travellers from regions like the China, Persia, and the Roman Empire.

Merchants used to transport silk and other commodities by camel or horse along those roads.

As of November 2019, 138 other countries are part of the project, according to China. They include New Zealand, Russia, Italy, and even Syria.



Below Left: BRI partnerships typically come in the form of joint memoranda of understanding to support future projects. But these contracts are typically shrouded in secrecy, so it’s hard to understand how they work.

Below Right: China has invested between $1 trillion and $8 trillion in projects along the Belt and Road, mainly in infrastructure, transport, and energy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping votes at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Reuters/Jason Lee

A train carrying containers from London arrives in Yiwu, China, in April 2017. The sign at the front of the train reads: "First Sino-Euro Freight Train (London Yiwu)." Thomas Peter/Reuters

Chinese President Xi Jinping votes at Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China.

These include gas pipelines in Pakistan; a port in Kazakhstan; and a rail route linking Yiwu, China, to the United Kingdom. Source: Center for Strategic and International StudiesSouth China Morning Post

Below Left: This 2017 photo shows a freight train directly running from Kouvola, Finland, to Xi’an, China. The trip takes 17 days, and is supposed to be faster than sea travel and cheaper than air.

Below Right: Here are workers building a natural gas pipeline linking China and Russia — one of the landmark BRI projects between the two countries.

Source: New China TV

Russian President Vladimir Putin — whom China’s President Xi calls his “best and bosom friend” — has propped up China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the past.

Below Left: China’s ambitions have even reached the Arctic, with plans to build a “Polar Silk Road” with infrastructure projects and shipping routes between the Arctic and Asia.

Below Right: Critics have warned that the building infrastructure projects under the BRI can cause environmental damage and displace people.

Smog in Beijing. REUTERS/China Daily

China first announced plans to build the Polar Silk Road in January 2018.

Smog in Beijing

China — which has led action on climate-change policies in recent years— has pledged to build environmentally sustainable BRI projects in the past, but has not given much detail on how it would do so, the Center for Strategic and International Studies said.

Activists and locals have spoken out about the potential environmental damage of various BRI projects.

In 2018, activists in Kenya managed to halt, via judicial order, the construction of a Chinese-financed coal plant because it would destroy the environment and human health.

Environmental groups in Indonesia have also warned that the building of a $1.6 billion dam on Sumatra island could wipe out a species of orangutan, the Financial Times reported.

A villager in Bom Or, Laos, told the Financial Times that Laotian and Chinese officials had visited more than 30 households asking them to make way for a building, without offering them financial compensation or other housing.

Below Left: Regardless, China is immensely proud of the BRI — it’s considered President Xi Jinping’s pet project. Experts say that you can just cite it to get government funding for projects.

Below Right: China is so keen to plug the project that state media outlets have made multiple music videos to promote it.

New China TV/YouTube

Chinese President Xi Jinping attends a meeting at the United Nations European headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, January 18, 2017.

New China TV/YouTubeOne video published by China Daily, ostensibly aimed at Gen-Z, shows children “from participating nations of The Belt and Road” singing these lyrics: “The world’s we’re dreaming of starts with you and me / The future’s coming now, the Belt and Road is how.” | Source: New China TV

“If you package something and say it’s Belt and Road-related, you have a much better chance of getting money from the Chinese government,” Stanley Rosen, a China expert and political-science professor at the University of Southern California told Business Insider earlier this year.

Similarly, Charles Parton, a former EU diplomat in China, told the Financial Times in 2017: “If you want to get projects or programmes approved, you say it’s OBOR [One Belt, One Road], so everything becomes OBOR.”

Below Left: In March 2019 China claimed one of its biggest victories for the BRI by signing a memorandum of understanding with Italy, the 8th-biggest economy in the world.

Below Right: The US isn’t a part of BRI, but recognizes and deems it a threat. In November 2019, President Donald Trump’s administration announced it will invest and trade more in Asia to counter China’s economic power in the region.

Chinese and US delegations led by Xi and President Donald Trump at a working dinner after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2018. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Xi and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands after signing trade agreements in Rome, Italy, on March 23, 2019.

Chinese and US delegations led by Xi and President Donald Trump at a working dinner after the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2018.

The two countries’ MOU, reportedly to support a joint infrastructure project, is non-binding — meaning there will be no legal ramifications for Italy or China if either withdraws from the agreement.

The exact details of what the memorandum aims to achieve are also unclear, further shrouding the BRI in secrecy.

The Trump administration in November launched the “Blue Dot Network,” a US-led public-private initiative to increase “financially sustainable infrastructure development” in Asia.

The organization wants to “promote market-driven, transparent, and financially sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world,” it said in a statement.

It appears to be directly targeting countries concerned about the BRI’s opacity.

Below Left: In 2016, China established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, an regional development bank to fund infrastructure — like an Asian version of the IMF. The UK, Germany, and France all joined despite the Obama administration warning its allies not to.

Below Right: Though China typically stays out of other countries’ politics, the BRI has given it reasons to get involved in some of them. When Turkey invaded northeastern Syria — a BRI partner nation — in October, China told Turkey to stop (and was ignored).

US President Barack Obama was not pleased when US allies all joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite his discouraging them from it. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama was not pleased when US allies all joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank despite his discouraging them from it. Source: Asian Infrastructure Investment BankBusiness Insider

Children sit by their damaged home in Barisha, Syria, following a US raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late October 2019. Source: Chinese governmentSouth China Morning Post

Below Left: The project has also amplified feuds between other countries. India is suspicious of the BRI because of Beijing’s plans to build the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Below Right: China’s backing of Pakistan-based infrastructure projects has also appeared to encourage it to support Beijing in other political issues. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has routinely ignored criticism of China’s abuse against its Muslim minority.

Imran Khan at his house in the Bani Gala hills, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan July 29, 2017. Caren Firouz/Reuters

Pakistan’s Gwadar port, which is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, in October 2017. Drazen Jorgic/Reuters

Imran Khan at his house in the Bani Gala hills, on the outskirts of Islamabad, Pakistan July 29, 2017. Caren Firouz/Reuters


Projects along the CPEC include a coal-fired power plant, schools, and solar energy facilities, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

Tensions between India and Pakistan, meanwhile, reached a height this year when India claimed the disputed region of Kashmir as its own federally-administered territory.

Khan has repeatedly claimed not to know anything about China’s oppression of the Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim ethnic minority in its west.

China-Pakistan: Critics told Business Insider earlier this year that through the BRI, China had bought Pakistan’s silence.

It’s an example of what critics call Chinese “debt-trap diplomacy” — the strategy of extracting political concessions from a country that owes money. Another example of this can be seen in BRI countries shunning Taiwan.

Below Left: Taiwan

Below Right: Cambodia

Construction for an airport in Botum Sakor, Cambodia, developed by China's Union Development Group, in May 2018. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

A woman in front of Taiwan’s flag.

Construction for an airport in Botum Sakor, Cambodia, developed by China’s Union Development Group, in May 2018.

TAIWAN: has been self-governing for decades, but Beijing continues to call it a Chinese territory. Tensions between the pair have ramped up in recent years because the island nation’s incumbent president is particularly critical of China.

A handful of countries, which are also BRI partners, have formally severed ties with Taiwan in recent months, leaving the island nation with just 15 allies left globally — all of whom are relatively impotent on the world stage.

Taiwan’s allies include the Pacific island nations of Nauru and Tuvalu, and Eswatini, a southern African nation of 1.4 million people

Many of those countries have also restored or improved ties to China after cutting off Taiwan.

PACIFIC: Not everyone agrees with that characterization, though. An Australian think tank found that China’s actions in the Pacific do not, at this point, show any sort of debt-trap diplomacy.

“The evidence suggests China has not been engaged in problematic debt practices in the Pacific as to justify accusations of debt trap diplomacy, at least not to date,” the Lowy Institute said in October 2019, according to The Guardian.

The think tank did warn, however, that the “sheer scale of Chinese lending and the lack of strong institutional mechanisms to protect the debt sustainability of borrowing” could still bring risks for the borrowing nations.

Below Left: One thing is clear: China has poured a lot of money and effort into the BRI, and is unlikely to stop. The US — the only world power strong enough to take on China — will have to step up if it wants to be taken as a serious alternative in Asia.

Below Right: This map shows a trillion-dollar reason why China is oppressing more than a million Muslims (The Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang, western China, are living in one of the most heavily-policed and oppressive states in the world. This map helps explain why.)

Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, in June 2019.

BI Graphics: A map showing some Belt and Road Initiative land routes that run through China’s Xinjiang.  businessinsider.com.au

Original Source: Date-stamped: 2019 NOV 12 | Time-stamped: 2:42 AM | Author: Alexandra Ma | Article Title: The US is Scrambling To Invest More in Asia To Counter China's 'Belt And Road' Mega-Project. |  Article Link: businessinsider.com

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