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China’s One Belt One Road worsens fiscal woes in host nation: US

China’s One Belt One Road worsens fiscal woes in host nation: US
May 23
15:49 2020

NEW DELHI/WASHINGTON: The US in its vision document on China, has warned against the Xi Jinping regime’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, saying it will create and worsen fiscal problems in host nations and extract political concessions to exact retributions against other countries.

In a litany of charges against Beijing, ‘The United States Strategic Approach To The People’s Republic of China’ report released by the White House, has said that the OBOR projects frequently operate well outside of international standards and “are characterized by poor quality, corruption, environmental degradation, a lack of public oversight or community involvement, opaque loans, and contracts generating or exacerbating governance and fiscal problems in host nations”.

Incidentally, last week, an inquiry committee constituted by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to examine the losses in the Power sector, discovered corruption worth 100 billion Pakistani rupees by the Chinese private power producers. This has led to the bloating of Pakistan’s debt, the inquiry committee report said.

The committee attributed the losses incurred by the Pakistani government due to “violation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that include the cost of the installation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs), government agreements, alleged embezzlement in fuel consumption, power tariff, guaranteed profit in dollars, and certain conditions of power purchase”.

Though the White House vision document did not mention Pakistan but it said that given China’s “increasing use of economic leverage to extract political concessions from or exact retribution against other countries, the United States judges that Beijing will attempt to convert OBOR projects into undue political influence and military access”.

Many of the OBOR projects, the US outlook paper said, appear designed to reshape international norms, standards, and networks to advance Beijing’s global interests and vision, while also serving China’s domestic economic requirements.

Through OBOR and other initiatives, China is expanding the use of Chinese industrial standards in key technology sectors, part of an effort to strengthen its own companies’ position in the global marketplace at the expense of non-Chinese firms, the report said.

The OBOR projects which include transportation, information and communications technology and energy infrastructure; industrial parks; media collaboration; science and technology exchanges; programs on culture and religion; and even military and security cooperation, frequently operate well outside international standards, the White House said.

President Xi Jinping’s ambitious projects, the US government said, “are characterized by poor quality, corruption, environmental degradation, a lack of public oversight or community involvement, opaque loans, and contracts generating or exacerbating governance and fiscal problems in host nations”.

Beijing, the White House said, uses a combination of threat and inducement to pressure governments, elites, corporations, think tanks, and others – often in an opaque manner – to toe the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) line and censor free expression.

Accusing the CCP of repression, the US said, Beijing has restricted trade and tourism with Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, Norway, the Philippines, and others, and has detained Canadian citizens, in an effort to interfere in their countries’ internal political and judicial processes.

After the Dalai Lama visited Mongolia in 2016, the PRC government imposed new tariffs on land-locked Mongolia’s mineral exports passing through China, temporarily paralyzing Mongolia’s economy, the report pointed out.

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