China’s BRI largesse leaves debtors squirming

China’s BRI largesse leaves debtors squirming, by Brad Norington.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews signed up to China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road infra­structure program despite increasing alarm in countries already hitched to the deal that it has saddled them with too much debt, and forced dependence on Beijing.

Signed-up nations are also questioning whether the BRI is a partnership with mutual economic benefits, as promoted, when China stands to gain most from spreading its influence with agreements throughout Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

There is anxiety that reliance on China could pose sovereign risks to nations with big infrastructure spending on new railways, highways, bridges, ports and digital technology “laying the foundations” for China’s future expansion of military bases — and little room for the indebted to ­resist.

A big blow to the BRI was the recent decision of Malaysia to ­cancel $22 billion of Chinese projects, including a new rail line along the nation’s east coast. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad … even branded the BRI “a new form of colonialism”. …

The drive of many South Pacific and African nations to secure Chinese funding for infrastructure has exposed another problem: a lack of local engagement. Funding for “bridges to nowhere” is raised by BRI critics as evidence China’s support may be linked more to gaining a foothold for regional sec­urity purposes rather than for ­altruistic economic development.

The more basic complaint about China’s alleged BRI disconnect is how its financing of projects has favoured employment for its own nationals.

Good one Victoria. Electing officials with a poor grasp of economics and world affairs, but steeped in PC fantasies, is bound to end in trouble.

Victoria is refusing to release the document they’ve signed with China. Hmmm.

Peta Credlin:

Yesterday, it … emerged that one of ­Andrews’ key staff was a “special consultant” to a local organisation, the Shenzhen Association of Australia, that is guided by the Chinese Communist Party. This adviser has visited China a number of times with Andrews and claims to have influenced his boss’s China strategy.

hat-tip Stephen Neil