B3W: New Highway to Heaven

The label for the multilateral copy of China’s New Silk Roads recently announced at the G7 summit by U.S. President Biden is gruesome: Build Back Better World, or B3W. As a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” it is to compete with China’s infrastructure activities. So far, however, B3W is merely an anaemic PR product.

Newsletter May 2021

Contents: Blog posts on Europe’s geopolitical ghost ride in the Indo-Pacific; “Debt diplomacy” as a popular refrain in the intensifying debate about China’s economic and political expansion. A new book on ‘how a former socialist country rescues world capitalism’; Reviews of Jonathan Hillman’s book ‘The Emperor’s New Road’ and a study on ‘social risks to sustainable development’ in China’s BRI.

My borrowers, your borrowers

The narrative of Chinese “debt diplomacy” is rather simplistic: Lending by state-owned banks is not transparent, encourages corruption, and serves primarily Chinese corporations, it goes. This would lead inevitably into a debt trap. It appears as if Beijing’s policy is fundamentally different from the practices of international financial institutions, governments of Western industrialized countries or large commercial banks.