China and Diplomacy Debt Trap: Accusations Without Evidence
|Objavljeno: 05.06.2021 / 08:45|
|Autor: David Dodwell, South China Morning Post|
|ANALYSIS - One of the first laws of politics must be that a lie that is well-told, and told often enough, can muffle any truth and contradict a thousand facts.|
I am too young to have seen this law at work with Adolf Hitler. I remember it well with Margaret Thatcher, though, and more recently with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his call to nostalgic Britons that Brexit could rejuvenate a once-great nation.
Of course, it is former US president Donald Trump and his loyal conspiracy theorists who provide a masterclass with the breathtaking audacity of their claim that widespread voter fraud stole the presidency. There can be no more frightening evidence of the law’s perplexing power than to watch so many US political leaders in high places prostrating themselves before Trump’s “big lie”.
The narrative of China strategically deploying foreign investment to secure power over developing countries arose among Trump’s acolytes in 2018. John Bolton, then US national security adviser, warned that China was poised to take over Zambia’s national power and utility company to collect on Zambia’s financial obligations.
However, work led by Deborah Brautigam of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard’s Meg Rithmire, first published in The Atlantic magazine in February, has raised questions about the “debt trap diplomacy” narrative.
To be fair, China is not blameless. For starters, it has emerged at intimidating speed from poverty and isolation to become one of the world’s leading economic forces.
According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report, China’s total stock of foreign direct investment (FDI) was a puny US$28 billion in 2000. By 2019, its stock of outward FDI had soared to US$2.1 trillion, putting it third in the world behind the US’ US$7.7 trillion and the Netherlands’ US$2.56 trillion. It has leapfrogged the Britain, Japan and Germany – all of whom have built up their FDI stock for a century or more.
While China was a minnow in foreign investment, this did not particularly matter. But now China is one of the world’s largest sources of FDI, not having it at the table as the debts of troubled economies have to be restructured or written off is a source of concern.
Research released in March, titled “How China Lends”, lifts the veil on China’s debt contracts with foreign governments. Done by AidData, the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Kiel Institute, it provides some valuable insights when put alongside the work at Johns Hopkins’ China-Africa Research Institute.
However, it also says the debate over China’s lending strategy and intention is largely based on conjecture.
Brautigam, of the China-Africa Research Institute, reaches similar conclusions. “China’s march outward, like its domestic development, is probing and experimental, a learning
|Tagovi: debt trap diplomacy, Deborah Brautigam, Johns Hopkins University, chinese investments, China, China diplomacy, World Bank, Paris Club|
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