“Asian countries benefit from China” – former US ambassador Robert Blake

“Asian countries benefit from China” – former US ambassador Robert Blake

Written by Staff Writer

07 May, 2019 | 8:10 pm

Colombo (News 1st): Speaking at a seminar organized by the Pathfinder Foundation, former US Ambassador to Sri Lanka Robert Blake spoke about the need for transparency in projects and economic viability under China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The keynote speech was delivered under the theme ‘Update from Washington: US Foreign Policy towards China and South Asia and what it means for Sri Lanka.’

“Now most Asian countries acknowledge and even share some of these concerns. They also do not want to be asked to make a choice between China and the United States, because naturally, they want to benefit from the massive resources that China is extending under the Belt and Road Initiative and other initiatives that they have underway. First of all, debt diplomacy. And here in the case of Sri Lanka’s own port of Hambantota, has become a watch word for the rest of the world that countries have to make sure that they choose projects that have solid internal rates of return that will enable them to service the debt that they have incurred from the Chinese or they will face Chinese pressures to convert that debt to equity. A third problem is the lack of transparency. Most BRI projects face criticism from within countries of the lack of transparency about who is undertaking the projects, who are the partners, what are the terms, what is the financing? Most of that is kept secret in most countries. Now the good news is about all this is I think the Chinese are really beginning to respond to all of these concerns, they are really beginning to listen. In a speech, just a few weeks ago Xi Jinping told the conference that everything has to be done in a more transparent way and us, ie China, have to have zero tolerance for corruption. So again I think that’s sort of an indirect nod to Sri Lanka and the other countries of some of the problems.”

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