EXCLUSIVE: The White House shot back at China and its multibillion-dollar global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), this week, saying any outcomes would be “highly dubious” and other countries should be wary of working with China.
The BRI consists of China’s planned economic infrastructure projects and investments in dozens of countries around the world. While China has claimed its investments will benefit other countries, the initiative has been viewed as China’s way to create its own trading economy, with an eye toward dominating global affairs and creating financial dependencies.
“China’s Belt and Road Initiative purports to address the legitimate infrastructure demands of the world’s less-developed economies, but primarily aims to export China’s own economic imbalances – industrial overcapacity, excess labor, large foreign currency reserves – and to convert these into political influence and strategic military access,” a senior administration official told Fox News on Wednesday.
“In most or all cases, China’s state-driven approach to infrastructure development has facilitated corruption, enabled poor fiscal management and damaged economic governance and institutionality in recipient countries,” the official said. “It hasn’t taken long for much of the world to recognize that for all of China’s claims, the development outcomes of its infrastructure projects are highly dubious.”
A war of words also escalated between China and National Security Adviser John Bolton, who this week warned Ukraine not to become subject to China’s machinations.
Ahead of his trip to Ukraine, Bolton warned about the dangers of BRI. After meeting with officials in Kiev, Bolton said the two countries “share a common commitment to preserving Ukraine’s security and sovereignty, and to ensuring it is not subject to Chinese economic exploitation.”
China hit back with its own statement.
“We firmly oppose Mr. Bolton’s attempt to smear BRI cooperation and to drive a wedge between China and other countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said Wednesday during a news conference, noting that Bolton’s comment “came as nothing new to us.”
“Unlike the ‘America First’ policy pursued by some in the U.S., the principle China upholds in its BRI cooperation with over 160 countries and international organizations is extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, which has produced mutually beneficial results,” Shuang said. “It is the same with our cooperation with Ukraine. I believe most countries in the world are capable of making independent, fact-based policy choices that are in their own interests.”
China has signaled it might buy Motor Sich, a Ukrainian aircraft engine maker, which concerns Bolton and the administration.
“We laid out our concerns about … unfair Chinese trade practices, threats to national security we’ve seen in the United States,” Bolton said in Kiev, Reuters reported Wednesday.
Bolton also said Beijing has engaged in “debt diplomacy” and theft of intellectual property, cautioning Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky against engaging in trade with China.