South Asian Insider
China using BRI to achieve its national security objectives: Pompeo
(News Agencies) - China is using its government power through the Belt and Road Initiative to achieve its national security objective, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo alleged Monday, asserting that the Trump administration is leading global efforts to inform countries about the "predatory" Chinese economics. The Trump administration has been extremely critical of President Xi Jinping's trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and is of the view that China's "predatory financing" is leaving smaller counties under huge debt endangering their sovereignty."The Chinese effort to the Belt and Road activities are about using government power to achieve national security objectives," Pompeo told reporters travelling with him in Finland. Noting that the US has said all along that it has a huge economic interest in China's success and vice versa, Pompeo said the BRI needs to be transparent. "It's got to be on a free and open basis. It can't be with the idea that you're going to loan a country money and then foreclose on that facility so that you can then build yourself a port or take that land and real estate. That's not appropriate. We have discouraged that. We have educated other countries around the world on that set of issues," he said. Where there are elements of the BRI that are truly building a bridge and it is a commercial transaction, the US welcomes China participating in those, he said. "But where we see China behaving in ways that are truly not commercial but rather designed to further gain them either access entree for national security purposes, we don't think that's what those countries are really buying," Pompeo said. The BRI was launched by President Xi when he came to power in 2013. It aims to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes China is doling out huge sums of money for infrastructure projects in countries from Asia to Africa and Europe, enhancing its global influence. Concerns over BRI financing became vocal after China acquired Sri Lanka's strategic Hambantota port on a 99-year lease as a debt swap in 2017 Earlier addressing the opening session of the Arctic Council in Finland, Pompeo slammed China for its BRI, which he said, tends to eat into the sovereignty of nations."China has observer status in the Arctic Council, but that status is contingent upon its respect for the sovereign rights of Arctic states. The US wants China to meet that condition and contribute responsibly in the region. But China's words and actions raise doubts about its intentions," he said. Citing Sri Lanka and Malaysia, he warned Arctic nations to be aware of the real Chinese intentions."Let's just ask ourselves: Do we want Arctic nations broadly or indigenous communities specifically, to go the way of former government in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, ensnared by debt and corruption? Do we want crucial Arctic infrastructure to end up like Chinese-constructed roads in Ethiopia, crumbling and dangerous after only a few years?" he asked.
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