is an initiative”Belt and Road“The Chinese are the largest economic project under construction, but the fate of this huge initiative appears threatened after a report revealed hidden debts and corruption cases in huge amounts.
Numerous research reports have revealed that the winds are going unheeded about the international infrastructure development program conducted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, especially since the program has sparked a global debate about the way in which China finances and manages its projects.
Diving deep into Belt and Road projects, AidData, a think tank at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, counted 42 low- and middle-income countries that now have debts to China that exceed 10% of their annual GDP.
A report in the Wall Street Journal identifies $385 billion in Chinese loans as not included in countries’ official borrowing — or roughly half of China’s overseas lending to build roads, railways and power plants.
This hidden debt is becoming more common, because lenders finance the activity through special purpose companies rather than host governments.
The report also estimated that 35% of China’s overseas infrastructure projects have faced major problems such as corruption scandals, labor abuses, environmental risks and public shocks. AidData connects nearly 400 projects worth $8.3 billion to the Chinese military.
The report, published last Tuesday, details $843 billion in Chinese loans to 13,427 primarily projects between 2000 and 2017, much of it linked to the Belt and Road plan that officially began in 2013.
International criticism of Beijing’s practices
The report comes amid growing concern in borrowing countries about debt burdens, while Western countries led by the United States have criticized some of Beijing’s lending practices as exploitative.
It is noteworthy that the “One Belt, One Road” project, or what is known as the Belt and Road Initiative, was built on the ruins of the Silk Road in the nineteenth century in order to connect China with the world, to be the largest infrastructure project in human history.
The initiative was incorporated into China’s constitution in 2017, and the Chinese government describes the initiative as an “attempt to strengthen regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future.”
The project’s target completion date is 2049, which will coincide with the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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