CPEC & BRI and Attacks on National Narratives | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

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CPEC & BRI and Attacks on National Narratives

DIVERGENT forces of development and destruction, cooperation and conspiracy, harmony and horrendousness, prosperity and propaganda, dialogue and debris and last but not the least, consensus and unilateralism have been fighting each other for the last so many years

China’s concept of shared prosperity and the US & West hegemonic orientation have been striving hard for formation of specific national narratives around the globe.

It has got momentum after the inception of projects of the century namely One Belt & One Road and CPEC by China.

Most recently there have been a series of articles, commentaries and news items against BRI and CPEC published within and beyond the country. Once again, global merchants of souls poured lots of funds to pollute the importance of the BRI & CPEC in the country.

Pseudo intellectuals wrote many anti-BRI & CPEC articles even in the country. India, USA and even other regional countries published a series of anti-CPEC articles dubbing it a debt trap, hidden debts and rise of so-called Chinese imperialism with economic dominance etc.

On the other hand, most recently, President Xi Jinping has devised a new road-map for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which consisted of total transformation of it through high-standard, sustainable and beneficial steps to public well-being and support developing nations in going green and low-carbon in their energy sectors. While addressing the third symposium on the development of the BRI in Beijing, he assured that China will consolidate the foundation for BRI cooperation on interconnectivity and create new opportunities for international cooperation. President XI stressed the importance of striving to attain a higher level of cooperation, higher investment efficiency, higher quality of supply and greater resilience in the growth of the initiative.

Xi rightly pointed out that the international environment for the BRI has become increasingly complex because of the new round of scientific and technological revolution and industrial revolution bringing about unprecedentedly fierce competition, and climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic exerting an unprecedented influence on humanity.

Conversely, the US Research Institute “AidData” recently issued a report claiming an average year during the BRI era in which China spent $85 billion on overseas development programs, causing a significant increase in “hidden debt” in low-and middle-income countries.

The report also listed a range of other problems that it alleged was caused by BRI, such as “infringement of labour rights” and “environmental issues.”

Critical analysis of this much propagated and widely circulated report reveals that it is full of human/technical/professional errors, distortions, confusing concepts, misinterpretation, self-defined economic theories, self-inserted accounting parameters, untrue self-assumptions and intentional deviation from the basic concept of research methodologies and professional neutrality.

The said report intentionally categorized a major component based on non-official funds such as commercial investment and financing and non-profit activities into the scope of China’s foreign aid, and it exaggerated the proportion of relevant data. Moreover, the said report considers commercial loans provided by state-owned commercial banks as government spending.

Ironically, it includes military cooperation such as China’s provision of peacekeeping operations funds to the United Nations, as well as foreign investment by private companies such as Huawei, in the scope of official development finance. It is full of serious bias which does not rely on Chinese official channels and data sources.

Chinese loans are not rich countries specific to so-called grab resources, but the reality is that most of China’s foreign aid flows to the least developed countries, and many of the BRI recipient countries are resource-poor economies.

The report intentionally correlated the sanction and flow of Chinese funds to countries with serious corruption problems as listed by the World Governance Index and accusing of supporting corruption.

On one hand, the hard fact is that China’s BRI cooperation consists of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits having total openness and transparency with zero tolerance for corruption.

Moreover, Chinese investments have never attached any conditions to its international cooperation and it is based solely on the willingness and needs of involved parties.

In this context, project assistance and material assistance have been the two main tools of China to help the developing countries mainly for the purpose of avoiding the possibility of corrupt behaviour.

On the contrary, Western countries are controlled by the elites in recipient countries, which not only increase the economic and social inequality of the recipient countries, but also breed corruption.

Since its inception, the BRI framework has been productive, effective and development oriented. China has always urged the guiding principle of South-South Cooperation.

China’s development financing to other developing countries not only help them solve long-term financial difficulties, but also provided public products for local development.

China provides commercial loans with relatively low interest rates that often last 20 years or longer. The US has never been supporting the public good in developing countries.

It is propagating propositions in terms of “debt traps,” “resource plundering,” and “pollution,” is simply attempting to slander China’s cooperation with other countries, and try to damage China’s international reputation, hinder China’s cooperation with other countries in order to maintain the US’ hegemony.

To conclude, AidData’s methodology intentionally includes the full value of a Chinese loan to a joint venture investment as the host government’s “underreported debt” contrary to the World Bank guidelines.

Approximately, US$ 153 billion was loaned to joint ventures (JVs) and special purpose vehicles (SPVs), limited liability companies set up for specific projects.

Some of these are majority owned by host governments, but in several significant cases they are controlled by private companies ExxonMobil, for example with modest shareholdings by host governments.

The World Bank does not classify these latter loans as public debt. AidData has intentionally introduced two separate concepts in this report.

The “underreported” loans refer to loans that are not reported to the World Bank’s Debtor Reporting System, the source of the data in the IDS. Most of the headline takeaways from the report refer to these “underreported” loans.

The second, “hidden” loans refer to the entire set of loans to host country state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and state-owned banks and SPVs with some degree of host government ownership but without state guarantees.

War of tug has now converted into fierce debate of national narratives at the global stage. Chinese communism with socialism characteristics have gradually erased the economic dominance of capitalism through the shared prosperity vision of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has already attached socio-economic prosperity of Pakistan with the CPEC.

Thus national media should fight out the US & West propagandas to save strategic assets like CPEC. Since the inception of BRI in 2013, over 200 cooperation agreements have been signed with 172 countries and international organizations.

This resulted in $9.2 trillion in cumulative trade and $130 billion in Chinese foreign direct investment in BRI.

Thus the US Research Institute AidData report is fabricated, fake, false and fictional which does not have any substance but all fairy tales.

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