Never go out of your way to China… On the other hand, the country that ordered teachers is a global hot issue.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at a seminar of provincial and ministerial-level leadership in Beijing in preparation for the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China on July 27, 2022. Xi praised the achievements of his ten years in office. /Photo = Yonhap News

This is a global hot issue of the Korea Economic Daily. This time, we are going to cover news from the Asian region. Have you ever heard of China’s One Belt, One Road project? The idea is to recreate the Silk Road, an ancient transportation route between the East and the West, led by China. Before 2050. It was devised by President Xi Jinping in 2013, and has been actively pursued with the participation of more than 140 countries so far.

China mainly targets developing countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It aims to improve the poor infrastructure of these countries by lending large-scale Chinese capital. After providing a development loan, it is possible to build an anti-US front together by making money by investing in local manpower and companies, and by strengthening economic, trade and diplomatic relations with these countries. It is the ambition of ‘one stone, two birds’. However, recently, it seems that plosive sounds are starting to appear everywhere. It is analyzed that anti-Chinese sentiment began to spread rapidly as developing countries that owe a huge debt to China suffered a serious economic crisis.

A recent interview with the Financial Times (FT) by Bangladesh Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal demonstrates this clearly. Bangladesh was the first Asian country to welcome China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Currently, China owes about $4 billion, or 6% of its foreign debt. “Other developing countries should reconsider how they are investing in infrastructure in a way that borrows from China’s Belt and Road Project,” Kamal said. As concerns about global inflation and slowing economic growth are adding to the burden on emerging markets, it was argued that participation in the Belt and Road project should be more cautious.

Bangladesh Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping.  /source=hindustantimes

Bangladesh Finance Minister Mustafa Kamal (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping. /source=hindustantimes

In particular, the recent national bankruptcy of Sri Lanka was mentioned. On May 18 of this year, I pointed out Sri Lanka, which was officially in default (default). He emphasized, “The wrong decision is driving developing countries into debt pain,” he said. “Everyone is blaming China,” he said. “China will not be denied. It is clear that Sri Lanka’s bankruptcy is their responsibility.”

Another thing to pay attention to is the ‘view point’. Kamal’s remarks came shortly after Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Bangladesh and met with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and other government officials. Shortly after his trip to Bangladesh, Wang Yi called himself “China is Bangladesh’s most reliable long-term strategic partner”, as the finance minister, who oversees the country’s finances, says otherwise. No matter what the story is, Director Wang Yi will have a little pain in the back of the head.

Maybe Bangladesh is breathing a sigh of relief looking at Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, even after the default, angry people continued to seep, eventually leading to massive anti-government protests in the capital, Colombo, last month. Protesters broke into the presidential office building and the official residence, and burned the prime minister’s residence. In the end, the unprecedented situation in which then-President Gotabaya Rajapaksa fled to Singapore. We are currently negotiating bailout aid with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but the future does not look easy.

Sri Lanka, where anti-government protests continue after state bankruptcy.  /photo = EPA

Sri Lanka, where anti-government protests continue after state bankruptcy. /photo = EPA

Sri Lanka currently borrows $11 billion from China, or 22% of its national debt. There have been times when I have been humiliated by the huge debt I owe to China. In the process of constructing the southern Hambantota port in 2017, they could not repay the $1.4 billion loan borrowed from China, so they had to hand over the port operation rights to China for 99 years. The Hambantota port incident is regarded as an example that shows that “the Belt and Road Project is nothing more than a ‘debt trap’ set by China.”

Bangladesh has once taken a different path than Sri Lanka. The reason China is eager to develop port bases in other countries is because of its plan to secure energy transport routes by occupying ports connecting the South China Sea, Indian Ocean, and Africa. had been called

China was also greedy for the construction of Sonadia Port on the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh. Bangladesh nullified the project in 2020. Instead, they decided to use Japanese funds to build the port of Matabari, located just 25 kilometers from Sonadia. I was less open to China and chose Japan instead… , Wouldn’t it be safe to see the current situation in Sri Lanka?

It is not only in Asian countries that anti-Chinese sentiment is growing among countries that have borrowed Chinese money around the world. In Kenya, East Africa, where the recent presidential election was held, the anti-China issue was the biggest issue that divided the pledges of the candidates throughout the presidential election period. It seems to be these days that the Chinese government is deeply concerned about whether it would mean creating an anti-Chinese front while trying to build an anti-American front.

Reporter Kim Rian knra@hankyung.com

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