G7 takes on China’s Belt and Road: Leaders detail $600billion plan

G7 leaders last night revealed a $600billion investment plan for the developing world in a stinging rebuke to China’s Belt and Road Initiative for global expansion.

The £488billion Partnership for Global Infrastructure (PGII) will go head-to-head with China’s multi-trillion dollar investment plan for scores of low and middle-incomes nations.

Under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese firms are already building roads, bridges and airports in 70 countries where China is seeking greater influence.

The pursuit of a ‘new Silk Road’ trade route between Asia and Europe is the flagship of President Xi Jinping’s plans for Chinese expansion.

It is made up of a ‘belt’ of six overland corridors that direct trade to and from China and a maritime ‘road’ of shipping routes and seaports from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Pillars of the BRI already built include freight rail links from Wuhan to Lyon and Chengdu to Prague.

And since 2005, China’s three largest state investment banks have also loaned hundreds of billions of dollars to Latin American countries, funding power stations and dams.

In 2018, President Xi announced $60billion (£48billion) in funding for development projects in Africa.

Announcing his own expansion of the BRI at Davos five years ago, President Xi said it was time for China to ‘swim in the vast ocean of the global market’.

But the BRI has been saddled with claims of corruption, opacity and fraudulent bidding since it was first launched nearly a decade ago.

A 2019 study published in Nikkei Asian Review described significant ‘corruption flows’ within President Xi’s plan.

Author Johnathan E. Hillman, an adviser to the US State Department, wrote: ‘By limiting outside scrutiny, the initiative’s lack of transparency gives Chinese companies an edge in risky markets, and it allows Beijing to use large projects to exercise political influence.

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