US ‘forced labor’ lies cannot sabotage BRI cooperation
Published: Jul 20, 2022 11:23 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/Global Times

The US State Department's annual human trafficking report released on Tuesday groundlessly smears that the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has the "hidden cost" of "forced labor." The report hypocritically reminds host governments to review recruitment channels and contracts for Belt and Road projects to avoid "exploitation" of their citizens.

The latest "forced labor" accusation against BRI is nothing but another lie concocted by the US like the "debt trap," which have absolute no evidence supports. In fact, while busy concocting lies to attack China, the US itself has the worst human rights record. It's plain to see the so-called human rights issue is only a tool for the US to push hegemony. What the US should to the most on the issue is to mind its own business.

The US' hypocritical report is once again full of baseless slander. The sinister intention behind it is to undermine the mutually beneficial economic cooperation between China and economies under the BRI framework. However, the US' calculation is doomed to fail.

The US has been attempting to use the despicable "forced labor" lies to smear China's Xinjiang region, trying to undermine local economic development and cut China out from the global market and supply chain. Yet, the US' sinister intentions have failed. Although many countries export a lot of products to the US, their basic materials and equipment are all made in China. It is simply impossible for the US to force them to exclude China. It has been proved that global supply chain cooperation will not be disrupted by US political coercion that goes against the laws of economic development.

Likewise, the US forced labor lies cannot undermine the Belt and Road cooperation. A significant amount of data shows that the economic cooperation under the BRI is aimed at promoting the economic development of the host countries and regional prosperity, and the initiative has achieved the goal. Many BRI projects are those requiring long-term input and hard work, which most Western countries are not willing to invest in.

China has not only built local infrastructure to promote regional economic prosperity, but also has deepened economic and cooperative relations with related economies. As an increasing number of projects have seen tangible achievements, the credibility of BRI cooperation has been established. China's approach to promoting economic and trade cooperation without any additional conditions has been recognized by more and more countries. It's ridiculous for the US to hope to sabotage this mutually beneficial cooperation by fabricating lies.  

In contrast, infrastructure projects launched in the US have made little progress. From the Build Back Better World to Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, grappling with economic predicament at home, Western countries lack both the sincerity and capacity to make real investments. Those plans seem more like lip services.   

Furthermore, the US even doesn't hide its geopolitical calculations to confront and contain China. The regional economic cooperation plans brought up by the US are exclusive in nature, which also confirms that these plans are not aimed at economic cooperation but geopolitical gaming. In addition, these plans always come with high standards, but not paying attention to the real local development needs. The US always played the role of "human rights teacher" in a condescending manner.  

For developing countries, the key to promoting cooperation is not to implement the so-called high standards and to accept the West's ideological preaching. What they need is not a "human rights teacher", but real investment to promote local development. Yet, it's questionable whether the US and Western countries have sincerity to do so.  

With a global debt crisis is looming with developing countries bearing the brunt. Many countries are suffering the consequences of the irresponsible macroeconomic measures of the West. If the US really cares about these countries, it should put aside its groundless hostility and smears against the BRI, and work with China to adopt a gesture of a responsible power and jointly work out solutions. 

Admittedly, the infrastructure plans of the US and the West do have competed with China, but this does not mean that there is no room for cooperation. If the US can put aside zero-sum and hostility in promoting economic cooperation, joint efforts can be delivered to contribute to the post-COVID recovery of global economy.  

The author is an editor with the Global Times.