The remarks came on the back of criticism of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) by some in the US and Europe, and ahead of the second Belt and Road forum, hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping later this month in Beijing.
He added that no country to date has complained of falling in the “trap” of unsustainable Chinese loans.
“The Belt and Road initiative aims to increase the economic prosperity of a country. It does not aim at expanding the political and geographical authority of China in the world.”
With BRI, “one of things we’ve seen is all the risks are put on the recipient, not the originator of the loan,” he said. “A degree of restraint by the Chinese would be helpful.”
“If you keep your interest first, you will not find China an unfair partner,” said Shandana Gulzar Khan, Deputy Minister and Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan.
“But it depends on how well you do your homework.” In Pakistan, she noted, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor created tens of thousands of jobs and has revived an entire region.
“The biggest worry on ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ should come from China’s side. It is tax payers’ money.”
The upcoming Belt and Road forum in Beijing later this month could be an opportunity to kickstart a “second phase” of the initiative, He said.
“It will be open more to the outside world,” for example by having foreigners on the BRI advisory bodies. “China is not waving the ‘China First’ flag,” she said.