Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) boasts an array of accomplishments ranging from vast public infrastructure projects to nurturing cultural exchanges. The initiative has evolved into a sought-after platform for international collaboration, offering global public goods.
As of June 2023, China had inked over 200 cooperative agreements with 152 nations and 32 global organizations to collectively further the BRI vision.
Yet, the BRI hasn't been immune to criticism. Certain Western nations and their media have painted the initiative's projects as snares of debt, primarily targeting developing nations. These narratives often omit China's considerable debt relief efforts. A 2019 Forbes report highlighted that, from 2000 to 2018, China forgave roughly $9.8 billion in debt owed by other nations. Moreover, many BRI projects have tangibly improved the quality of life for local populations, from job creation to infrastructural developments.
Highlighting one such success, the China-Laos Railway has revolutionized Laos’ trajectory towards development and prosperity. This vital component of the trans-Asian railway network transforms Laos into a key land-linked nexus, fostering trade, tourism, employment, and income boosts.
The BRI also implements the “Green” idea by utilizing new energy and green technology, constructing green projects, and creating green industries, such as the Garissa solar plant in Kenya, the Karot Hydropower Project in Punjab province, eastern Pakistan, first electric buses in Nigeria from Chinese bus maker Yutong and so forth. How do Western countries contribute to improving the environment? Apart from Western countries moving polluting industries and substances to developing countries and exploiting the resources of developing countries, the US military is a bigger polluter than over 100 countries combined.
Another contribution of the BRI is poverty alleviation and agriculture development, especially for African countries. For example, China’s 2022 projects in Africa created nearly 300000 jobs. For some African countries like Burkina Faso, their agriculture could barely meet the population’s needs in the past. Under the BRI, some demonstration areas with Chinese experts’ assistance have doubled or even tripled the output of rice production, and rice quality has also been improved. For some Western countries, the African continent is a treasure house. Vast natural resources in the continent have been stolen in the form of so-called bank lending, “wars on terror” and so forth. Western colonialism still causes tragedies and disasters we see in Africa today.
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