US Challenges China’s Belt And Road With New Global Infrastructure Scheme
The Trump administration has spent the last several years, bashing China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and calling it a ‘debt trap’ and urging countries around the world to resist allowing China to build infrastructure projects in their respected countries. The motive behind US officials attempting to discredit the BRI is because of Washington’s new plan to launch a similar infrastructure scheme.
High standards deliver high impact!
— OPIC.gov (@opicgov) November 4, 2019
The US Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) have unveiled on Monday the American-led Blue Dot Network, a global “sustainable infrastructure development in the Indo-Pacific region and around the world,” read an OPIC press release.
“The development of critical infrastructure—when it is led by the private sector and supported on terms that are transparent, sustainable, and socially and environmentally responsible—is foundational to widespread economic empowerment,” said OPIC’s David Bohigian. “Through Blue Dot Network, the United States is proud to join key partners to fully unlock the power of quality infrastructure to foster unprecedented opportunity, progress, and stability.”
“This endorsement of Blue Dot Network not only creates a solid foundation for infrastructure global trust standards but reinforces the need for the establishment of umbrella global trust standards in other sectors, including digital, mining, financial services, and research,” said US Department of State Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach. “Such global trust standards, which are based on respect for transparency and accountability, sovereignty of property and resources, local labor and human rights, rule of law, the environment, and sound governance practices in procurement and financing, have been driven not just by private sector companies and civil society but also by governments around the world.”
“Australia is committed to promoting high-quality infrastructure, inclusive approaches, and facilitating private sector investment in the Indo-Pacific region,” said DFAT Deputy Secretary Richard Maude. “I’m pleased that this commitment is shared by East Asia Summit Leaders, and we look forward to working closely with our regional partners to develop Blue Dot Network to take action on this commitment.”
“Blue Dot Network is an initiative that leads to the promotion of quality infrastructure investment committed by G20 countries,” said Maeda. “As JBIC has a long history of infrastructure finance all over the world, JBIC is pleased to share such experience and contribute to further development of Blue Dot Network.”
Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, told the Financial Times ahead of the launch: “Each blue dot is meant to be a dot on the map that will be a safe place for companies to operate if they are interested in sustainable infrastructure projects…The point is to show seriousness about the sustainability of projects.”
The Blue Dot Network is being developed by the Trump administration to be a direct competitor to China’s BRI.
The Lowry Institute’s Asia Power Index shows the US remains the top power in Asia. Still, there are troubling signs that China is quickly gaining ground, likely to displace the US in the coming decade.
“The US remains an important, but not the primary economic player in Asia,” said Hervé Lemahieu, head of Lowy’s Asian Power and Diplomacy Programme. “They’ve got to get used to that.”
Washington’s role in the world has diminished in the last decade since China launched BRI in more than 152 countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.
The next big fight across the world is BRI versus The Blue Dot Network. The world economy is being fractured — this will only create heightened volatility in the years ahead.