One Belt, One Road, One Big Mistake

China’s signature foreign-policy project is a failure that the U.S. shouldn’t copy.

BY TANNER GREER | DECEMBER 6, 2018,


Chinese President Xi Jinping, Papua New Guinea's Governor-General Bob Dadae, and Papua New Guinea's Chief of Defense Gilbert Toropo attend a welcome ceremony for Xi's state visit in Port Moresby on Nov. 16. (David Gray/AFP/Getty Images) 





중국 내에서도 경고 목소리 커지는 '일대일로'..."대상 국가 중 절반이 부적합"


세계 곳곳에서 파열음


   시진핑(習近平) 중국 국가주석이 야심차게 추진하고 있는 일대일로(一帶一路:육상·해상 실크로드) 사업이 최근 세계 곳곳에서 파열음을 내고 있습니다. 주요 참여국들 사이에서 일대일로 사업으로 빚더미에 올랐다는 볼멘소리가 터져나오고 있기 때문이지요.


국제통화기금(IMF)은 중국이 일대일로 참가국에 뿌린 부채 폭탄에 골머리를 앓고 있다고 하소연할 정도인데요. IMF는 부도 위기에 몰린 저개발국에 구제금융을 지원하는 과정에서 부채의 불분명한 규모와 성격 탓에 진땀을 흘리고 있습니다. 중국은 일대일로를 추진하며 저개발국에 인프라 건설 자금을 대규모로 빌려줬는데, IMF는 이들 국가의 구제금융 요청을 접수하면서 이들 나라와 중국과의 불투명한 거래 때문에 해당 국가의 부도 위기 정도를 파악조차 할 수 없다고 합니다.




일대일로는 2013년 시 주석이 집권하면서 처음 제창한 것으로 동남아시아 유럽 아프리카 등 전 세계를 육상·해상으로 연결하는 경제 협력 사업이다. 중국이 주로 국유은행을 통해 해당 국가에 거액의 돈을 빌려주고 국유기업을 통해 철도 도로 항만 댐 등 인프라를 구축해 주는 방식으로 진행돼왔습니다. 하지만 일부 참여국들이 채산성을 제대로 따지지 않고 무리한 투자 계획을 수용하면서 재정난에 빠지는 사태가 속출하고 있습니다. 미국 등 서방 국가들은 중국이 개발도상국을 상대로 사실상 약탈 행위를 저지르고 있다며 일대일로엔 중국의 지정학적 패권 추구 전략이 숨어 있다고 비난하고 있습니다.


중국 내에서도 일대일로 사업의 위험성을 경고하는 목소리가 나와 주목을 끌고 있습니다. 중국 베이징대와 베이징에 있는 싱크탱크 타이허(太和)연구소는 최근 일대일로 사업 대상 국가 100개국을 조사한 보고서를 내놨는데요. 절반에 가까운 49개국이 일대일로 사업에 적합하지 않다는 결과가 나왔습니다.


 


베이징대와 타이허연구소는 △정책 △인프라 △무역 △금융 △인적자원 교류 등 5가지 분야에서 일대일로 사업의 적합성을 평가했는데요. 5가지 지수를 종합한 결과 남태평양에 있는 쿡제도가 일대일로 사업에 가장 적합하지 않은 국가로 평가됐습니다. 이어 팔레스타인, 예멘, 시리아, 부탄 등의 순서로 부적합한 것으로 조사됐습니다. 보고서는 “이들 국가를 포함해 모두 49개국이 금융과 인프라 부족으로 일대일로 사업을 추진하기에 적절하지 않은 것으로 나타났다”고 지적했습니다.




반면 일대일로 사업에 가장 적합한 국가로는 러시아가 꼽혔습니다. 이어 싱가포르와 말레이시아, 카자흐스탄, 독일이 뒤를 이었습니다. 이들 국가를 비롯해 19개국은 일대일로 사업과 전반적으로 원활한 통합을 할 수 있는 국가로 평가됐습니다. 또 호주, 인도, 인도네시아, 이스라엘, 프랑스 등 14개국은 일대일로 사업에서 큰 잠재력을 갖춘 국가로 조사됐습니다. 보고서는 “앞으로 일대일로 사업을 추진하는 과정에서 해당 국가와의 시너지 효과 등을 면밀히 따져야 할 것”이라고 조언했습니다.

베이징=강동균 특파원 kdg@hankyung.com 한국경제


edited by kcontents


The headlines coming out of this year’s APEC conference in Papua New Guinea focused on the conflict between America and China that kept the forum from issuing a joint communiqué. Less noticed were two short memorandums released on the sidelines of the conference by the island nations of Vanuatu and Tonga. In return for renegotiating existing debt, both agreed to become the newest participants—following other Pacific nations like Papua New Guinea and Fiji—in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign-policy venture, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).




As Xi’s trillion-dollar development strategy has snaked away from the Eurasian heartland and into the South Pacific, western Africa, and Latin America, concern has grown. Many Americans fear that the Belt and Road Initiative is an extension of efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to undermine the security and economic architecture of the international order. China’s growing largesse, they worry, comes largely at the expense of international institutions and American influence.


This angst lies behind another announcement made at last month’s APEC gathering: Australia, Japan, and the United States declared that they had formed their own trilateral investment initiative to help meet infrastructure needs in the Indo-Pacific. For some this is not enough: In its most recent report to the United States Congress, the bipartisan U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission recommended that Congress create an additional fund “to provide additional bilateral assistance for countries that are a target of or vulnerable to Chinese economic or diplomatic pressure.”




This is the wrong response to the Belt and Road Initiative. 



Ignore the hype: For the Chinese, this initiative has been 

a strategic blunder.Ignore the hype: For the Chinese, 

this initiative has been a strategic blunder. 


By buying into the flawed idea that barrels of money are all that is needed to solve complex geopolitical problems, China has committed a colossal error. Xi’s dictatorship makes it almost impossible for the country to admit this mistake or abandon his pet project. The United States and its allies gain nothing from making China’s blunders their own.

 

In Xi’s speeches, the phrase most closely associated with the Belt and Road Initiative is “community of common destiny.” Xi’s use of this term is meant to link the BRI to the deeper purpose party leaders have articulated for the CCP over the last three decades. China’s leaders believe that not only is it their “historic mission” to bring about China’s “national rejuvenation” as the world’s most prestigious power, but that China has a unique role to play in the development of “political civilization” writ large.


It is the Chinese, Xi maintains (as Hu and Jiang did before him), who have adapted socialism to modern conditions, and in so doing have created a unique Chinese answer to “the problems facing mankind.” Though this answer began in China, Xi is clear that the time has come for “Chinese wisdom and a Chinese approach” to benefit those outside of China. The Belt and Road Initiative is intended to do just that. By using the Chinese model of socialism to develop the world’s poorer regions, the initiative justifies Xi’s grandiose claims about the party’s historic mission on the international stage.




To match these lofty aims, Chinese academics and policy analysts at prestigious party think tanks have articulated more down-to-earth goals for the initiative. According to them, the BRI promises to integrate China’s internal markets with those of its neighbors. Doing so will bring its neighbors closer to China geopolitically and bring stability to the region. By increasing economic activity in China’s border regions, such as Xinjiang and Tibet, the Belt and Road Initiative will lessen the appeal that separatist ideology might have to the residents. Another projected benefit is the energy security that will come through the construction of BRI-funded transport routes. Finally, by articulating and then following through on an initiative that puts common development over power politics, China will gain an advantage over other major countries (read: Japan and the United States) who present the world as a black-and-white competition for hegemony. The community of common destiny, these analysts have claimed, is a community that will immensely benefit China.


New Internationalist

edited by kcontents




As the Belt and Road Initiative is only five years old (and many of its main members have been involved for a far shorter time) its full results cannot yet be judged. However, a preliminary assessment can be offered for BRI projects in South and Southeast Asia, the region described by Chinese leaders as the “main axis” of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is here that BRI investment is strongest and has been around longest. The picture is not promising. The hundreds of billions spent in these countries has not produced returns for investors, nor political returns for the party. Whether Chinese leaders actually seek a financial return from the Belt and Road Initiative has always been questionable—the sovereign debt of 27 BRI countries is regarded as “junk” by the three main ratings agencies, while another 14 have no rating at all.


Investment decisions often seem to be driven 

by geopolitical needs instead of sound financial sense.




Investment decisions often seem to be driven by geopolitical needs instead of sound financial sense. In South and Southeast Asia expensive port development is an excellent case study. A 2016 CSIS report judged that none of the Indian Ocean port projects funded through the BRI have much hope of financial success. They were likely prioritized for their geopolitical utility. Projects less clearly connected to China’s security needs have more difficulty getting off the ground: the research firm RWR Advisory Group notes that 270 BRI infrastructure projects in the region (or 32 percent of the total value of the whole) have been put on hold because of problems with practicality or financial viability. There is a vast gap between what the Chinese have declared they will spend and what they have actually spent.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/12/06/bri-china-belt-road-initiative-blunder




kcontents

Posted by engi, conpaper Engi-

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