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Analyst Explains Why China's "Debt Trap Diplomacy"​ Critics Are Wrong


China’s critics, led largely by the United States, are determined to warn developing countries about the risks of borrowing too much money from Beijing. They contend China will use these loans to financially entrap economically vulnerable countries as part of a broader effort to exert political influence and control.

Mark Akpaninyie does not agree.

The former research analyst at the prestigious Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote a provocative article The Diplomat that China’s debt diplomacy is a “misnomer” and should instead be called “Crony Diplomacy.”

“Instead of a state-led strategy, Chinese firms — motivated by profit and abetted by a toxic combination of bureaucratic disorganization, incompetence, and negligence at the state level — have exploited poor nations, which are dependent on cheap, and sometimes bad, loans.” — Chinese foreign policy analyst Mark Akpaninyie

“This practice does not trap recipient countries into taking on unsustainable debt,” he said. “Instead, it allows Chinese companies to profit from often crooked deals building much-needed infrastructure in some of the world’s poorest countries, exploiting the undersupply of financing and these countries’ appetite for infrastructure projects.”

Mark joins Eric & Cobus to discuss why he thinks China isn’t a predatory lender, as critics charge, but instead “motivated by profit and abetted by a toxic combination of disorganization, incompetence, and negligence.”

Show Notes:

About Mark Akpaninyie:
Mark Akpaninyie is a Research Assistant at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He previously was a Research and Special Assistant for the late Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski at CSIS and a researcher with the CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies. Prior to joining CSIS, he lived in China for over three years, serving as a Fellow with Teach For China and then a lecturer at Baoshan University. He is a member of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and a Young Leader with Pacific Forum. He graduated with a B.A. in Public Policy Studies from the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University.

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