Beijing [China], April 7 (ANI): Despite Chinese President Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) touted as a 'win-win' step over 140 targeted countries across the globe, recipient countries have realised that Beijing's aid was not as much of a kind gesture as they had hoped, hitting Beijing with a serious reputational crisis and emboldening calls for an alternative plan.
According to The Straits Times, most of the countries involved in the initiative will inevitably struggle to repay the debt servicing requirements. This was seen when Sri Lanka admitted its mistake in trading its 'debt trap' for a 99-year Chinese lease of Hambantota Port.
Bhopinder Singh wrote that China's no-questions-asked approach imposed no conditionalities on the host country to answer any awkward question on democratic freedoms, human rights and transparency.
However, now Zambians, Ethiopians and Papua New Guineans are having serious second thoughts at having entertained the Chinese, while close partner Pakistan has been reportedly witnessing murmurs of disapproval in its Senate.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has mooted an alternative multi-trillion-dollar infrastructural plan to rival China's BRI.
While more than 100 countries have already inked various sub-components of the Chinese BRI conceptualisation - fears of erosion of sovereignty, debt traps and inequities have led to an all-time high fear of the Chinese 'aid' via the BRI, and therefore the search for a more equitable option, should it exist, according to The Strait Times.
Singh wrote that the US will have to deploy a more nuanced and holistic approach in terms of diplomacy, information, military and economy in countering the BRI, as the post-Trump era has left the new administration with the herculean task of repairing relations with its ostensible allies.
Although not every nation will share the same urgency, fear or even the plausible appetite for joining an alternative to the existing BRI that directly offends the Chinese, the conversations have already begun. The alternative to BRI may not only be feasible, but completely unavoidable, according to The Strait Times.
With the COVID-19 pandemic having exposed the Chinese machinations of playing down the initiatives that subsequently wreaked havoc on global economies, the BRI is now suffering a serious reputational crisis.
As the communist nation rolled out its grand initiative, isolated regimes such as Pakistan, North Korea, Venezuela, Iran, Bolivia and Myanmar were naturally drawn into the BRI budget. More than USD 800 billion has been 'invested' in eight years in the form of infrastructural projects or loans to over 60 countries.
China had already shown its ability to turn major global crises into invaluable opportunities to feed its own hegemonic instincts. The BRI imperatives planned over USD 1 trillion are clearly aimed at desperate and option-less economies, reported The Straits Times. (ANI)