BRI is pragmatic and open; ‘debt trap’ label not relevant China: FM
Published: Mar 07, 2023 02:20 PM
An Fuxing bullet train runs on the China's section of the China-Laos Railway on Jan. 27, 2023. As of Tuesday, the China-Laos Railway had operated 20,000 passenger trains and handled 10.3 million passenger trips since its launch in December 2021, the railway operator said Wednesday.((Photo: Xinhua)

An Fuxing bullet train runs on the China's section of the China-Laos Railway on Jan. 27, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is pragmatic and open, and China should be the last one to be blamed for debt problems in BRI countries, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang stressed on Tuesday at a press conference of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress.

The BRI is a quality public good that is proposed by China, jointly built by all parties and shared by the world. Thanks to its high standard, sustainability and benefits created for relevant countries, it's widely popular, attracting three-quarters of the world's countries and 32 international organizations to join, Qin said.

During the past decade, the BRI has galvanized nearly $1 trillion of investment and established more than 3,000 new cooperative projects, creating 420,000 jobs for countries and regions involved and lifted approximately 40 million people out of poverty, Qin said.

The China-Laos railway has transformed Laos into a land-linked country from a land-locked one. The Norochcholai power plant contributes to a major portion of Sri Lanka's electricity supply. The Mombasa-Nairobi railway has driven local economic growth by over 2 percentage points. The Luban Workshop, a China-supported skill and vocational training project, has helped young people from over 20 countries obtain vocational skills. A total of 65,000 China-Europe freight train trips have formed a steel camel caravan linking Asia and Europe that transported anti-pandemic supplies, according to Qin.

China will hold the third BRI Forum for International Cooperation this year, and hopes to take this opportunity to work with all relevant parties to forge ahead with more new achievements, Qin said.

 "China should be the last one to be blamed for BRI countries' debt. Statistics showed that multilateral institutions and commercial creditors account for over 80 percent of their debt, which is the biggest source of their debt burden. The US' unprecedented interest rate hikes last year caused massive capital outflows and negatively impacted their debt levels," the minister said.

China has been continually making an effort to reduce these countries' debt burden and has made the greatest contribution in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative, Qin said. China will continue to participate in the settlement of international debt problem with a constructive attitude, and calls for other parties to take actions and fairly share the burden, he said.

The BRI is a pragmatic and open initiative that insists on the principle of consultation, contribution and shared benefits, Qin said, noting that all parties involved hold consultations in cooperation and attach importance to friendship during exchanges.

"We welcome other countries' initiatives that don't divide the world with ideology. We are glad to see the success of those initiatives that promote no geopolitics," the minister said.