Australia recently pulled back from the Belt and Road Initiative of China. BRI has also drawn criticism from Australia’s ally India amidst territorial issues. Why is it happening so? And what’s the initiative all about? Let’s find out.
Crux of the Matter
Australia Cancels BRI
In 2018, Victoria (state in Australia) had signed MoU on Belt and Road Initiative with China. On 21 April 2021, the Australian Govt cancelled their deal citing “national interest” as reason behind it.
- Strained relations between both the countries since 2020.
- Australia had called for investigation into Coronavirus origin and criticized China for Uighur and Hong Kong issue.
- China retaliated with heavy export tariffs and also shared fake image of Australian soldier killing a child in Afghanistan.
Belt And Road Initiative
- 2013: Xi Jinping became the President and announced an updated ‘Silk Road’ project in Eurasia in the same year.
- Currently an umbrella term for projects like roads, railways, ports, energy pipelines, etc. to be constructed by China in the nations.
- Current members: 139 nations as per CFR
- This includes countries in Africa, Central Asia, Latin America, Middle East, Europe, etc.
- Lack of clarity, as in which projects come under its domain.
- BRI accused of ‘debt trap’ although several experts blame mismanagement of borrowing nations.
- One such example is of Hambantota port of Sri Lanka.Though project began before BRI, it was mainly developed under it.
- 2017: As Sri Lanka failed to repay loan, it leased the port to China for 99 years.
- Also opposed by India as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) runs through PoK.
- Tanzania had cancelled along similar lines of ‘exploitative’ nature of the deals.
Chinese financiers set tough conditions that can only be accepted by mad peopleJohn Magufuli, former President, Tanzania
Interestingly, amidst Covid impact, it re-signed in 2021.
- China and Australia were the final two bidders for the 2000 Olympics. Australia subsequently won and Sydney hosted the 2000 Olympics.
- Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s son is married to a Chinese woman. There are now large numbers of Australian-born Chinese and Chinese-born migrants/Australian Citizens in the cities of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
- In the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the Australian government granted protection for about 20,000 Chinese students in Australia. Since then, Australia has become one of the biggest markets for Chinese students for tertiary education.
- NDTV – Australia Cancels Deals On China’s Belt And Road In “National Interest”
- The Hindu – India refuses to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative
- HW News – “Only A Drunkard Would Accept These Terms”, Tanzania President Rejects China’s $10 bln Loan
- The New York Times – How China Got Sri Lanka to Cough Up a Port