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U.S. has failed to hamper BRI by seeking to shame it

2019-04-09 11:17:31       source:NISCSS

March 25, 2019

The United States has increased its criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) dramatically ahead of the BRI Forum for International Cooperation to be held at the end of April, so as to hinder the program's implementation.


Earlier this month, Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council of the United States, warned Italy against becoming the first G7 country to join the BRI, saying the economic downturn in the EU founding member state would not be solved even if Italy embraces the Chinese initiative.


More than that, he claimed that the international image of Italy would be undermined due to its participation in BRI. Analysts have predicted that the U.S. might "punish" Italy if it became a partner of China under the BRI as a warning to other Western nations.


In fact, Washington has been committed to thwarting the BRI in many ways ever since it was announced in 2013.


First, American officials, academics and reporters have variously called BRI a "geopolitical expansion," "debt trap" and "Chinese spies" in an attempt to shame it.


Second, the Trump administration proposed the "Indo-Pacific" strategy in November 2017, an ambitious grand strategy aimed at maintaining America's hegemony and containing China in the Indo-Pacific region.


Third, in order to press the countries to distance themselves from China as well as BRI, the U.S. has interfered with their decisions to join the project and threatened to punish them.

In spite of many such measures and sustained efforts, the U.S. has failed to make progress on impeding BRI.


The most evident example is that more and more states have joined and positively evaluated it. Even U.S. allies, such as Italy and Japan, have become BRI partners or agreed to cooperate with China under the program.


Many reasons can explain America's frustrations on crushing BRI. First and foremost, it has failed to present strong evidence to back its claim that China has a hidden agenda.


Actually, no evidence has shown that China has realized critical political objectives through BRI projects, such as building alliances or an exclusive bloc targeting third countries.


Moreover, Chinese projects have never had political strings attached, while the Western countries usually link aid to politics.


That's why the Asian and African countries prefer Chinese investments and have welcomed the BRI.


Although the U.S. announced that a large amount of money will be invested in the Indo-Pacific region under the "Indo-Pacific" strategy, few projects or programs have materialized.


Given this, a lot of BRI countries have repeatedly complained about America's empty promises on investments, thereby increasing their dependence on Chinese economic resources.

In this sense, the BRI should not be the main culprit taking the blame for declining U.S. economic influence in the Indo-Pacific region.


The U.S., on the one side, should rethink its economic policy in the region; on the other side, it should look at BRI in the right way.


As the sole remaining superpower in the world, the U.S. prefers to achieve its goals by adopting coercive measures, such as sanctions and isolation. In terms of BRI, the U.S. usually threatens those governments wanting to approve BRI projects with economic sanctions and diplomatic pressures.


This kind of interference, either directly or indirectly, has met strong resistance, thus undermining American efforts at hampering BRI as well as its bilateral relations with the countries involved.


For example, though faced with the great pressure from Washington, Italy had insisted that it would sign an agreement on jointly constructing BRI with China on Saturday.


Given the various limitations, it is not wise for the U.S. to set up barriers to BRI and thus creating a "zero-sum" game with China in the Indian and Pacific regions. The best choice for the U.S., therefore, should either be benign competition or join in win-win cooperation with China.


Peng Nian is an Assistant Research Fellow at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. 

Link: https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d674d7867544e33457a6333566d54/index.html

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