China on Wednesday refuted a U.S. research group report on the Belt and Road Initiative, reiterating that the initiative aims to achieve win-win economic cooperation.The report referred to in Xinhua was written about in Japan Times
According to the Associated Press, after analyzing 15 Chinese-funded port projects, a research institute called C4ADS concluded that the projects were not driven by win-win economic development, but intended to expand China's "political influence and military presence."
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying stressed at a daily press briefing that the Belt and Road Initiative is essentially about economic cooperation, and the core concept of the initiative is to promote common development by advancing connectivity in infrastructure and other fields. The initiative has gained support from more than 100 countries and international organizations, with more than 80 of them signing cooperation agreements with China.
She noted this worldwide support would never have been impossible were the initiative not adapted to the trend of the times and beneficial to people of various countries.
The spokesperson emphasized that the initiative has been open and transparent, with all participants involved in consultations in both planning and project implementation.
"China has no geopolitical calculations, seeks no exclusionary blocs and imposes no business deals on others," she said.
"Belt and Road is a mutually beneficial and win-win initiative," Hua said, adding that it will allow other countries to share opportunities from China's development and help solve development problems facing the world.
"During the Belt and Road construction, the Chinese side sticks to market rules and takes all parties's interests and concerns into consideration," Hua said..
She added that a large number of relevant cooperation projects are being carried out, and they have bettered the local economy and benefited the local people.
A massive Chinese infrastructure program that Beijing says is aimed at promoting global trade and economic growth is actually intended to expand the country’s political influence and military presence, according to a report issued Tuesday.Then there's the group the compiled the report, C4ADS, which describes itself as
The report by the U.S.-based research group C4ADS questions China’s portrayal of the trillion-dollar program, called the “Belt and Road Initiative,” as strictly meant to promote economic development.
President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy program, it is working to reinforce China’s links to Southeast Asia, Europe and Africa through networks of roads, ports, railways, power plants and other infrastructure projects.
C4ADS, a nonprofit research institute that specializes in data analysis and security, examined official Chinese policy documents and unofficial reports by Chinese analysts to analyze the intentions of Beijing’s ambitious economic development program, which seeks to connect 65 percent of the world’s population in more than 60 countries.
Chinese officials say the initiative, also known as a modern “Silk Road” harkening back to maritime and land-based trade routes of centuries past, is driven by commercial considerations. They have rejected assertions that it is also meant to expand Beijing’s global influence.
The report analyzed 15 Chinese-funded port projects in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Australia, Oman, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Djibouti and elsewhere in the Indo-Pacific region. It concluded that projects aren’t driven by “win-win” economic development for the individual host countries, as Beijing claims.
“Rather, the investments appear to generate political influence, stealthily expand China’s military presence and create an advantageous strategic environment in the region,” it said.
China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the findings, saying in a statement that Belt and Road is “essentially an economic cooperation initiative” promoting common development through infrastructure.
“China is not playing a geopolitical game,” it said.
While there’s no official policy document linking Belt and Road to China’s national security interests, Chinese analysts have written that developing the program and pursuing Chinese security are “intimately linked,” the report said. The analysts don’t represent official thinking but the authors believe what they say could influence decision-makers promoting the Belt and Road Initiative.
“Many of these observers recognize that a network of maritime logistics hubs throughout the Indo-Pacific, including ports, has the potential to change the region’s strategic landscape, and several explicitly describe the role of infrastructure investment in Chinese grand strategy,” the report said.
The projects shared characteristics that, taken together, pointed to China’s security intent, the report said. These include being in strategic locations such as entrances to the contested South China Sea, in an apparent effort by Beijing to ease its worries about energy imports and potential blockades.
The port projects involve dual civilian-military use, Communist Party influence through the involvement of Chinese state-owned companies and control through equity stakes or long-term leases and a lack of transparency and expected profitability, it said.
Peter Cai, a fellow at Australia’s Lowy Institute think tank who has studied Belt and Road, said he was somewhat skeptical about claims China was using port projects to advance military goals, given the difficulty of coordinating so many different investments, some of which might involve “independent actors.”
However, he said it’s clear China’s political influence would expand over countries it connects with.
The new links will increase economic activity, which means “you’re going to have economic influence and we all know that economic influence easily translates into political leverage and power,” Cai said.
One of the most controversial projects is in Sri Lanka, where the government signed a 99-year lease agreement for the unprofitable Hambantota Port, located along a busy Indian Ocean shipping lane, along with land to develop a free-trade zone, to a Chinese-controlled company, in a deal opposed by neighboring residents and monks.
“China appears to have established financial leverage over Sri Lanka through investment in alleged vanity projects” worth billions of dollars signed as Beijing courted the country’s previous president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, the report said. Debt levels for those projects prevented his successor from extricating the country from the deals and pivoting Sri Lanka away from China’s influence, it said.
C4ADS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing data-driven analysis and evidence-based reporting on global conflict and transnational security issues.They note their technology partners are U$ military-linked Palantir, along with others like panjiva, Archer, and Windward.
We use cutting-edge technologies to manage, integrate, and analyze disparate data from diverse languages, regions, and sources, incorporating our own field research from conflict zones and fragile states. We seek to engage with local and international audiences and produce compelling analysis on conflict and security issues. In doing so, we fill a critical gap left by traditional public sector and profit-driven institutions.
Devin holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and completed a second major in Mandarin and Chinese studies while in college. He then lived, studied, and worked in China for three years, which included earning his MA in International Relations from the Hopkins-Nanjing Center. His previous experience includes interning with the Department of State and Hudson Institute.The organization's board is filled with former U$ military generals and one fellow is a Saudi prince and a bunch of retired U$ military generals.
Ben received his undergraduate degree in International Relations from Tufts University. He speaks Chinese, Russian, and French, and has lived and studied in China, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia.
Over the last decade, China has significantly increased its global investments, particularly in international and maritime infrastructure. Chinese firms have pledged billions of dollars to develop maritime ports and related projects across the Indo-Pacific Region since China announced its strategy to increase global trade connectivity through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI, China’s guiding foreign policy doctrine and one of the most ambitious economic initiatives in modern history, is portrayed by Chinese leaders as creating win-win economic development for all nations. Yet, some states question whether China’s infrastructure investments are driven by strategic interests.If you want to read this strange 68 page report, go ahead. I'm just not sure about it.
This report evaluates China’s maritime infrastructure investment goals in the Indo-Pacific within the context of both policy from official documents and analyses from state- and Communist Party-affiliated publications. The authors find that Chinese analysts unofficially discussing port investments routinely prioritize China’s national security interests over the objective of mutually beneficial economic development, contradicting the position of official policy documents. Chinese analysts argue that the BRI’s Maritime Silk Road component can help ensure Beijing’s access to vital shipping lanes. Port investments are viewed as vehicles with which China can cultivate political influence to constrain recipient countries and build dual-use infrastructure to facilitate Beijing’s long-range naval operations. In some cases, analysts explicitly propose using international assistance and development as a pretext for pursuing China’s geopolitical objectives.
This report also analyzes a sample of 15 China-funded port projects to assess the behavior of the Chinese state and the Chinese companies involved using open-source data and, in some cases, on-the-ground investigation. The characteristics of China-funded commercial ports throughout the Indo-Pacific and the behavior of Chinese companies indicate that these investments are not principally driven by the concept of win-win development as Beijing claims. Rather, the investments appear to generate political influence, stealthily expand China’s military presence, and create an advantageous strategic environment in the region. These strategic characteristics and behaviors fall along dimensions that, together, constitute a useful analytical framework through which to assess Chinese infrastructure investments globally
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