Skip to main content

With the BRI, China Still Has a Long Road Ahead

Daniel Wanger, China Belt and Road Initiative news, Belt and Road Initiative China, China BRI financing, China BRI debt trap, Xi Jinping Belt and Road Initiative, Belt and Road Initiative environmental concerns, China BRI concerns by host nations, China BRI perceptions, Belt and Road initiative concerns

To determine whether China can deliver a better Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), we must first ask whether Beijing is first of all capable of delivering a better BRI? Accusations of practicing debt-trap diplomacy and new forms of colonialism have had some impact on Beijing’s thinking, resulting in its pivot in 2018 to commit to a new, greener BRI, but the foundation of its “grand plan” for implementing the BRI basically remains similar to when it started in 2013.

Beijing’s BRI Hubris Comes at a Price


President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China (CCP) have put some good-looking window dressing on the basic package, but so far, many BRI host country governments would say not all that much has changed since 2018, when Xi announced a pivot. Beijing is very good at saying one thing and doing another, as numerous governments around the world have learned. As a result, BRI host nations will inevitably believe that Beijing has had a real change of heart when they see it.

Deaf Ear

Part of Beijing’s problem is that it does not appear to be attuned to what the world is thinking. Perhaps it does not care. Reading Chinese media reports on the subject leaves one with the impression that the world is in unison and harmony with Beijing, its vision for the world and its performance thus far with the BRI. For example, according to  the CCP’s primary media outlet, the China Daily, a 2018 survey of 8,500 people in 17 BRI countries determined that “more than 70% agreed with the concepts of the “Chinese Dream,” the Belt and Road and “a community with a shared future for mankind.” But even this Chinese government-sponsored survey admitted that 64% of respondents believed that the BRI will confront many difficulties and challenges in the future.

That concern was echoed by a 2019 survey by Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, which polled more than 1,000 respondents in the government sector, the business community, civil society, academia and the media from across all 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. It found that fewer than 10% of respondents viewed China as “a benign and benevolent power,” 64% had little or no confidence that Beijing’s revised approach to the BRI will result in a fairer deal for their respective countries, and nearly 50% responded that they believed that Beijing possessed an intent to turn Southeast Asia into its own sphere of influence. That does not sound like a particularly inspiring foundation from which to try to turn things around.

Beijing knows it has a long road ahead. To its credit, it has issued regulations intended to better monitor the conduct of state-owned enterprises and private Chinese businesses, mandating that they should pay more attention to environmental, social, integrity, financial and other risk factors. If a particular host nation’s laws are weak, these entities have been advised to ensure compliance with Chinese law, international treaties and conventions, and industry best practices. Reporting requirements, capital controls, and the regulation of overseas finance and investment have been tightened, which has contributed to the notable decline in new Chinese overseas loans and investments since 2017.

Outside the Norm

That said, Beijing has generally been reluctant to apply its laws to the activities of its entities overseas. In fact, State Council guidance requiring extensive disclosure of contracts for major construction projects expressly exempts overseas investment and foreign aid projects. Laws criminalizing the bribery of foreign officials have never been enforced. Although Chinese courts have heard cases related specifically to the BRI, unless a project contract contains explicit obligations for which performance is sought, enforcement of Chinese laws for overseas actions almost never occurs. Beijing appears to be banking on the fact that a great many of the BRI’s host governments have worse transparency and corruption ratings than China, which presumably makes their willingness to pursue Chinese entities engaged in corruption less likely in the first place.

As long as Beijing continues to insist that only Chinese entities will provide financing for BRI projects, there is no way for external organizations to monitor transparency, corruption or adherence to international standards. That will, by itself, ensure that tension remains between Beijing, BRI host nations and the West, and signals to the world that Beijing is not in fact serious about reforming fundamental aspects of the initiative. Greater emphasis can be placed on taking some care not to blatantly violate national laws and international norms, allowing Beijing to proclaim that progress is being made, but that will continue to be on a relative scale.

If practices were previously wholly outside the norm of internationally acceptable behavior but they are improved, they can remain outside the norm of acceptable behavior even though they have improved. More than minor tweaks are required to demonstrate that a true pivot has occurred. Beijing certainly has the ability to implement meaningful wholesale change to the BRI if it chooses to, but it has yet to do so. Based on its prior history of performance regarding its flagship initiative, such changes stand little chance of being implemented.

*[Daniel Wagner is the author of “The Chinese Vortex: The Belt and Road Initiative and its Impact on the World.”]

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy


Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed.
Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area”
For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number”
Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell you …

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میںPlease help the deserving persons...Salary:Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows;Welder: Rs. 1,700 dailyHeavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyMason: Rs. 1,500 dailyHelper: Rs. 850 dailyElectrician: Rs. 1,700 dailySurveyor: Rs. 2,500 dailySecurity Guard: Rs. 1,600 dailyBulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyConcrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 dailyRoller operator: Rs. 2,000 dailySteel fixer: Rs. 2,200 dailyIron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 dailyAccount clerk: Rs. 2,200 dailyCarpenter: Rs. 1,700 dailyLight duty driver: Rs. 1,700 dailyLabour: Rs. 900 dailyPara Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 dailyPipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 dailyStorekeeper: Rs. 1,700 dailyOffice boy: Rs. 1,200 dailyExcavator operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyShovel operator: Rs. 2,200 dailyComputer operator: Rs. 2,200 dailySecurity Supervisor: Rs. 2,200 dailyCook for Chinese food: Rs. 2,000 dailyCook…

Historical relationship between Kurd and Baloch.

The Kurds are the ethnical group living in a region known as Kurdistan which is divided into Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They  are struggling for an independent region since decades and they are famous for their female guerrilla fighters.        On 25 September 2017, the referendum for an independent Kurdish region  was held in Iraq with a turn out of 72 %.   On this important occasion, the historical relation between Kurd and Baloch people is worth discussing.       When it comes to history, every nation tends to find its roots and origin. Same goes with the Baloch people. The Baloch people are always curious  about  finding their roots in history. Even if you  talk to a shepherd in Balochistan, he will be curious to talk about his  tribal or ethnical roots.      The Balochs have always conveyed the history to the next generations in different mediums like poems etc. No Baloch before 20th century had written books on  history  or origin of the Baloch nation .