Washington: China is trying to create its own globally decisive naval force through the ambitious multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative, the Pentagon has told the US Congress, warning that Beijing’s “unfavourable deals” strangle a nation’s sovereignty like an Anaconda enwrapping its next meal.
Touted as President Xi Jinping’s pet project, China is vigorously pursuing the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), offering billions of dollars of loans for infrastructure projects to different countries as it looks to expand global influence.
“China’s Belt and Road Initiative in particular is blending diplomatic, economic, military, and social elements of its national power in an attempt to create its own globally decisive naval force,” John Richardson, Chief of Naval Operations, told members of House Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on Thursday.
“China’s modus operandi preys off nations’ financial vulnerabilities. They contract to build commercial ports, promise to upgrade domestic facilities, and invest in national infrastructure projects,” he said.
The BRI focuses on improving connectivity and cooperation among Asian countries, Africa, China and Europe.
“Slowly, as the belt tightens, these commercial ports transition to dual uses, doubling as military bases that dot strategic waterways. Then, the belt is cinched as China leverages debt to gain control and access,” Richardson said.
“In the final analysis, these unfavourable deals strangle a nation’s sovereignty -like an Anaconda enwrapping its next meal. Scenes like this are expanding westward from China through Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Djibouti and now to our NATO treaty allies, Greece and Italy,” he told members of the House Armed Services Committee.