Economics of BRI & US global human rights propaganda
ECONOMICS of One Belt & One Road Initiative (BRI) is positive, productive and participatory.
It has trickle down effects on all its member countries in terms of poverty alleviation, provision of basic necessities of life, education, clean drinking water and affordable housing.
Its economic, financial and investment magnitude has already termed it “project of the century” which has been dubbed as main instrument for greater socio-economic prosperity, regional connectivity, generation of new job, poverty eradication and last but not the least, immense social development in the world.
It strives for more fair, free and equitable world. It stands for transparency and accountability and does not have any hidden political agenda or geopolitical scheme to snub other regional countries.
Unfortunately, due to unending war of tug and national narratives staged by the West against China’s BRI it has also been in the line of fire.
Right from its beginning in 2013 Western media and especially US and the EU tried to disseminate biased, untrue and ineffectual propaganda against its motives, aims, programs and projects and termed it as Chinese global debt trap and contributor of human right violations. It is not true and does not have any substance.
Ultimately, Group of 7 (G7) has now announced its own Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative and floated an alternative model of regional as well as international economic partnership against the BRI.
It will provide so-called transparent infrastructure partnership to help narrow the $40 trillion and called it so-called values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.
Most recently, a US-based institution published a report attempting to dispute the China-proposed BRI, claiming that a hydroelectric dam in northeastern Cambodia under the BRI “has undermined the life and livelihood of thousands of local communities and ethnic minorities.
It was published by Human Right Watch which self-claimed that the Lower Sesan 2 dam violated the human rights of nearly 5,000 people whose families had lived in the area for generations, and also impacted the livelihood of those both up and downstream.
It does not have any economic rationality, relevancy, financial feasibility and social correlation with the overall economic benefits of the proposed dam.
Apparently, it is just another failed attempt by the US to affront mutually beneficial projects under the BRI.
In this regard, right from the beginning the BRI holistic concept of development and shared prosperity has been under attack from the US and the West. It has been targeted from financing to ecological protection to human rights domains.
Frankly speaking it has not been any issue of human rights or economic exploitation or financial burden since its inception in 2013 however, the US is intentionally trying to scheme and sow the spirit of discord, discomfort and delusion among China and member countries under the BRI framework, in a bid to contain China’s development and maintain its hegemonic power across the world.
According to the latest data (2020-2021) during the eight years since the BRI was announced and implemented its projects have been creating differences and delivering palpable befitting propositions and partnerships to local communities and countries and constantly generating more new jobs and, of course, more prosperous societies in terms of economic self-reliance, economic diversification, productivity, exports, infrastructural development, eradication of poverty and last but not the least social stability.
The US latest report intentionally targeted the 400-megawatt dam which is the largest and the seventh one built by China in Cambodia with a length of 6,500 meters and has become a major power source for the local community.
It has revolutionized economic outlook of local communities in terms of agriculture production, generation of cheap electricity and greener source of energy.
It has multiplier socio-economic effects because before its launch Cambodia was highly dependent on imported electricity and electricity shortage which was a major stumbling block for it in attracting outside investment.
It had serious issue of circular debt because of shortage of electricity and it had been sieged in the darkness of load-shedding. The Lower Sesan 2 dam was put into operation in 2018.
Moreover, the seven Chinese built dams were capable of producing a total of 1,328 MWs, or 50.1 percent of the electricity production available in Cambodia.
Earlier in 2009, Chinese companies started to help set up Cambodia’s first national power transmission and transformation project.
In the construction phase alone, the projects offered over 10,000 job opportunities to local residents.
Various reports verify that the Lower Sesan 2 dam project has been contributing greatly to the development of the nation and also improved the livelihood of local residents, who used to live without access to electricity or proper transport infrastructure.
After relocation, they not only enjoy affordable electricity but also modern infrastructure, including roads, schools, hospitals and temples.
Thus US Human Right Watchdog does not have any substance but barking capacity to malign Chinese global economic out-reach policy under the flagship of BRI. Despite the US propaganda African Continent has been blessed with Chinese BRI.
The Cabinda water supply project in Angola covers 92 percent of residential areas in Cabinda, with 600,000 Angolan residents benefiting from the project. For some residents in Cabinda, it was the first time they had access to clean tap water.
According to latest reports (June 2021), a total of 205 financially sound and economically cooperative contracts have been signed between China and 171 countries and international organizations under the BRI.
It has facilitated the BRI members and the world through its vaccine diplomacy and has also helped advance the economic recovery for participating countries.
In 2020, China’s non-financial direct investment in BRI countries reached $17.79 billion, up 18.3 percent year-on-year, despite the ongoing covid-19.
On the other hand, as usual the US has been only offering obstructions to the development of related countries, including Southeast Asian nations.
In this connection, the US has lacked a coherent trade policy or sufficient presence in the infrastructure construction in the Southeast Asian region for the last 50 years.
It has a notorious history of violating human rights itself, the US has ironically turned it into a weapon to attack others.
Undoubtedly, economic rights lead toward a decent and harmonious society but somehow during the journey of self-reliance and promotion of trans-regional or cross-border cooperative projects the benefits of the BRI projects for participating countries and regions should not be vilified.
Thus the US should join the campaign to help offer electricity and other critical infrastructure to less developed countries to genuinely protect human rights.
To conclude World Bank report (2020-2021) suggests that when fully implemented, the BRI could increase global trade by 6.2 per cent and global real income by 2.9 per cent, and give a significant boost to global growth.
—The writer is Director, Geopolitics/Economics Member Board of Experts, CGSS.