China has not imposed debts on participants in its new Silk Road project, critics of "bias" have suggested, the country's high-ranking diplomat said Saturday in a strongly worded defense of a key political platform for Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Xi's belt and road initiative, as it's officially called, plans to rebuild the ancient Silk Road to connect China with Asia, Europe, and beyond with massive infrastructure spending.
However, this is controversial in many Western capitals, especially in Washington. It is merely a means to spread China's influence abroad and to help countries with unsustainable debt through non-transparent projects.
The United States was particularly critical of Italy's decision to sign this plan this month during Xi's visit to Rome, the first for a G7 nation.
Speaking to Yang Jiechi, the official Communist Party People's Daily The chairman of the Party's Foreign Affairs Committee said he found that some members of the international community believed that this was a geopolitical instrument and only involved those involved Countries would bring debt traps.
"Obviously, this shows a lack of objectivity and a proper understanding of the Belt and Road initiative ̵
China has often stressed that Belt and Road should promote common development, he added.
"The Belt and Road is open, inclusive and transparent, it does not play any small geopolitical games, it does not exclude to exclude exclusive small circles."
Yang noted that many countries, businesses, and ordinary people involved in the Belt and Road project had rejected "public rumors" about a debt trap.
Belt and Road projects went from their selection to their funding through careful risk assessments and the principles of the initiative emphasize sustainable development.
"For co-operation partners who have debt problems, China's policy is to adequately resolve this through friendly consultations, and has never blamed or coerced anyone," Yang added.
So far, no participating country has experienced a debt crisis – on the contrary, many countries have been able to avoid the "no-development trap", he wrote.
China will hold its second Belt and Road Summit in Beijing at the end of April.
Yang said that nearly 40 foreign leaders would attend, but did not name them. Some of China's closest allies have already pledged, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.