China slams Pence, says no nation in debt trap due to BRI

Beijing: China on Sunday hit back at US Vice President Mike Pence for accusing it of luring developing nations into a debt trap through the loans Beijing offers for infrastructure, asserting that not a single country has been “mired in debt” because of cooperation with it.

Pence in his combative address at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea on Saturday said China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is saddling developing countries with loans they cannot afford.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sharply criticised Pence’s remarks. “Not a single developing country has been mired in debt difficulties because of its cooperation with China,” she said in a statement.

“On the contrary, their cooperation with China has helped them enhance their capacity for self-driven development and improved their people’s livelihood,” she said.“Our advice for the relevant country is that instead of pointing fingers at others, it would be better to match its deeds with its words and truly treat all countries, big or small, as equals,” she said.
Pence and Chinese President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches at the APEC summit on Saturday.

“Know that the US offers a better option. We don’t dro­wn our partners in a sea of debt, we don’t coerce, compromise your independence. We do not offer constricting belt or a one-way road,” Pence told the APEC meet. In a speech to business leaders, Xi said the BRI initiative was not a “trap” and there was no “hidden age­nda”. Touted as Xi’s ambitious proje­ct, the BRI initiative focusses on impr­o­ving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe. Xi also lashed out at “America First” trade protectionism, saying it was a “short-sighted approach” that was “doomed to failure”.

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