President Xi Jinping defends BRI
By Andy Brown26 April 2019
Chinese President Xi Jinping has looked to alleviate growing concerns about China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Speaking at a BRI summit in Beijing, China, which was attended by over 30 world leaders, he is reported to have said, “The Belt and Road is not an exclusive club.”
The BRI has been criticised for placing countries into unsustainable levels of debt. For example, Sri Lanka had to hand over the deep sea port of Hambantota for 99 years to China’s Merchant Port Holdings in exchange for US$1.1 billion in debt relief.
Talking about the concern over debt levels Xi added, “We also need to ensure the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all projects so that they will achieve the intended goals as planned.”
Since BRI launched in 2013, China has invested around US$90 billion in projects while banks have provided upwards of US$300 billion in loans, according to Chinese officials.