Although China has a number of bad loans on its books in support of its Belt and Road Initiative, the Chinese are probably looking well beyond the short-term financial implications of renegotiating them (“China’s $1tn Belt and Road Initiative turns sour amid spiralling bad loans”, Report, April 17).
The BRI is nominally about linking China’s economy to the global marketplace and has included financing and building the necessary infrastructure to improve overseas ports, freight terminals and other “landside” infrastructure in exchange for equity positions and operating concessions.
Lest we forget, at one time Great Britain was a global economic power and dominated the seas through a virtual monopoly in merchant ships, friendly ports and overseas bases, and the world’s most powerful navy to back up its position.
The US assumed much of this role after the second world war, but China is showing profound interest in challenging the US in this capacity by building up its own blue water navy and slowly but surely implementing the other lessons of the 19th-century British playbook. China may well view the cost of some bad loans as a small price to pay to implement its 21st-century version of “Rule Britannia”.
Richard G Little
Visiting Research Scholar
Industrial and Systems Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, NY, US