China’s BRI defies international transparency: EU ambassadors

By Lobsang Tenchoe

DHARAMSALA, April 18: EU ambassadors to Beijing have warned that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) flouts international transparency norms and is aimed at furthering Chinese interests rather than promoting global trade and economic growth as claimed by China.

Condemning the massive Chinese infrastructure program, EU ambassadors to Beijing have compiled a report in which they stated that China’s BRI, which is also known as the new ‘Silk Road’, is designed to hamper free trade and put Chinese companies at an advantage, according to a report by German Daily Newspaper Handelsblatt Global.

The report signed by 27 of the 28 national EU ambassadors to Beijing, except for Hungary’s ambassador, further states that the plan unveiled in 2013 by China runs counter to the EU agenda for liberalizing trade and pushes the balance of power in favour of subsidized Chinese companies.

The sharply critical report on China’s BRI is said to be a part of the EU’s preparations for an EU-China summit in July.

EU diplomats concern ranges from China trying to divide Europe to strengthen its hand in relations with individual member states to an unequal distribution of power by exploiting grey areas in WTO law on the protection of intellectual property.

While the EU ambassadors believe that China needs to be pushed into adhering to the European principles of transparency in public procurement as well as environmental and social standards, and demands much of the wordings of the agreement be changed to ensure ‘equal opportunities for all investors in transport infrastructure’ as well as international standards of transparency, China refuses to incorporate any amendments.

The EU Commission is said to be working on a strategy paper to forge a common EU stance on China’s BRI to build roads, ports and gas pipelines to connect China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

In another blow to China’s trillion-dollar program BRI, a report by the US-based research group C4ADS questioned China’s portrayal of the BRI and said it actually intends to expand the country’s political influence and military presence, a report by Mail Online stated.

“Rather, the investments appear to generate political influence, stealthily expand China’s military presence and create an advantageous strategic environment in the region,” C4ADS said in the report.

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