China must take into account the environmental impact and economic fragility of BRI projects: study
Highlighting environmental concerns, a new study in China argues that the majority of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) investments should go to countries in South and Southeast Asia due to fewer risks that threaten economic development .
Professor Fang Chuanglin, the Chinese government’s senior adviser to a multidisciplinary research institute in Beijing, said some countries like Iran and Afghanistan are poor and in desperate need of economic development. However, their fragile environment could collapse due to rapid growth, The Star reported. .
According to the study conducted by Professor Fang, there were also many underdeveloped countries along the sea route crossing the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, but their environmental footprint remained much smaller.
The study comes at a time when China has sought to step up cooperation with Central Asian countries on security issues amid fears of a resurgence of terrorism in Afghanistan and a subsequent threat to its plans for it. BRI infrastructure in the region.
The project was greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with Beijing quietly cutting back on the project, especially in emerging markets in Africa, due to the excessive expansion of banks and non-repayment of loans on time.
Lately, Beijing has come under fire for funding economically unsustainable projects, leaving home countries heavily in debt. According to Fang, for China, a more important concern should be the question of the environment.
Fang and his colleagues in an article published in the journal Science Bulletin this month said that infrastructure projects such as power plants, railroads and factories would leave a significant imprint on the local environment.
“Water shortages, urban sprawl, agricultural waste and carbon emissions have already become serious problems in some countries,” the study said, adding that an environmental crisis could lead to social upheaval endangering infrastructure and investments.
According to the researchers, several countries have an “environmental deficit” that policymakers in Beijing must take into account when considering an investment.
Fang and his colleagues calculated the environmental deficit of 65 countries and called 21 countries, mainly on the Earth belt, “risk prevention zones” where “ecological and environmental risks must be strictly protected” because their environmental deficit was. extremely high.
Besides the environmental deficit, the BRI not only grants unfair advantages to Chinese companies, but the infrastructure projects that Beijing exports are fueled by hydrocarbons, which acts as a detrimental factor in the fight against climate change, Asia reported. Times.
The project, presented by President Xi Jinping as the “project of the century,” forces several countries to take China’s aggressive and environmentally insensitive approach to statebuilding.
A lingering question therefore remains as to whether criticism and public attention to how the BIS is funded will reduce China’s questionable practices and usher in a new approach to debt sustainability.
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