Silk Road summit: China under fire

Sixty-four billion dollars in contracts have been signed in Beijing at a three-day conference on the New Silk Road, according to Chinese reports. Almost 40 heads of state and government from all over the world gathered to discuss the next phases of the controversial infrastructure initiative. Commentators focus on the criticism of the project and Beijing's reaction.

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Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Europe must fight to protect the rule of law

With the New Silk Road China also wants to change the world politically, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung warns:

“We must not let ourselves be blinded by the Chinese economic miracle and the promises its huge market holds. ... There are positive developments that the Western democracies can and should support: many infrastructural requirements are undisputed. However in cases where China too clearly defends nothing more than its own interests, we must resist. Because with Chinese money come Chinese influence and Chinese values. Democracy, the rule of law and transparency play no role here. If Europe wants these to have a place in the new global order that China is helping to shape, it will have to fight for it.”

Právo (CZ) /

Beijing learning as it goes along

The Chinese leadership seems to be reacting to criticism of its Silk Road project, Právo notes:

“In his speech President Xi promised transparency, zero tolerance for corruption, and guaranteed financial feasibility. Clearly, China is reacting among other things to the criticism that by providing long-term loans it is creating a 'debt trap' - for countries that take out such loans without being able to service them. ... No doubt there are also worries that such a debt trap could ultimately also have negative consequences for China itself.”

Handelsblatt (DE) /

China being demonised without justification

Sha Hua, China correspondent for Handelsblatt, examines the allegations that poor countries end up with huge debts because of Chinese loans:

“Many developing countries have low incomes, but they're not naive or passive victims of external forces or higher powers. They consciously and voluntarily took advantage of China's offers. ... Facts also underpin the argument that China by no means lures other states into a debt trap: according to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund 17 low-income countries in Africa are in danger of not being able to service their debts. But only in three of them is China responsible for more than half of the government loans they received. In eight of them Beijing was either not at all active financially or only to a minor extent.”