Pravakar Sahoo for The Indian Express
G-7 leaders finally came around with the proposed Build Back Better World (B3W) to counter China’s rising influence across 100-plus countries through Belt Road Initiative (BRI) projects. The proposal, though at a nascent stage, aims to address the infrastructure investment deficit in developing and lower income countries — the space which has been increasingly captured by China through 2,600 BRI projects with trillions of dollars of investment. BRI projects are perceived as corrosive tactics or debt traps laid by China for its strategic dominance in trade, foreign policy and geopolitics in the world. So B3W is a welcome step but late.
The counter-strategy is necessary to bring down Chinese leverage. A macro view of BRI projects across geography — quantum and pattern of investment — clearly reflects the motive of China-centric international economic integration, production networks, hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region and, eventually, the global economy. Since the inception of the BRI in 2013, outward investment by Beijing has been aggressive as China’s FDI outflow to inflow ratio increased to 1 from around 0.34 during 2001-10. In volume terms, the FDI outflow increased to an average of $140 billion in 2016-19 from an annual average $25 billion during 2001-10. China’s share of FDI outflows increased from 2.3 per cent during 2001-10 to 10.7 per cent during 2016-2019.
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