Misreading of BRI and aid data by US think tanks is disappointing

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A misreading of China’s BRI and aid data by US think tanks is disappointing, sources said on Friday.

It was noted that Research institute AidData recently issued a report claiming in an average year during the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) era, China spent $85 billion on overseas development programs, causing a significant increase in “hidden debt” in low- and middle-income countries.

According to Zhang Chuanhong, associate professor at the International Development and Global Agriculture, China Agricultural University, the report also listed a range of other problems that it alleged was caused by BRI, such as “infringement of labor rights” and “environmental issues.”

A closer look into the report shows that it is full holes and errors like distorted data, confusing concepts, misinterpretation, and unfounded assumptions,which deviate from the academic neutrality and rigor that a think tank should abide by

This mistakenly included a considerable 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.

Ignoring the possible double-counting between the capital output of relevant banks and other enterprises, the report regards commercial loans provided by state-owned commercial banks as government spending.

More absurd, the report includes military cooperation such as China’s provision of peacekeeping operations funds to the United Nations, as well as foreign investment by the private companies such as Huawei, in the scope of official development finance.

The report’s interpretation of the data also contains serious bias. The report claims that most of its data comes from Chinese official channels, but it actually turns a blind eye to China’s official data sources.

The report claims that China’s development financing is mostly invested in resource-rich countries, and its goal is to 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 linked the flow of Chinese funds to countries with serious corruption problems as listed by the World Governance Index, accusing of supporting corruption. —Agencies

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