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Rahul Gandhi hails China’s Belt and Road Initiative and debt traps as ‘prosperity’, says India-US relations need similar plans

When Kapila mentioned the Sri Lanka-China story did not work out well, Gandhi said, "Of course, Sri Lanka has gone very wrong. The Chinese have put in a huge amount of money. A huge amount of money has been stolen. It did not pan out. But the idea that the Chinese are proposing is prosperity."

On May 23 (local time), Congress leader Rahul Gandhi defended China’s rising influence in the Indian sub-continent and claimed that China wanted the countries around it to prosper. Gandhi was speaking to The Print columnist Shruti Kapila at the Cambridge University event that was organised by Congress party linked organisations.

When she asked about his views on China as a rising global power in relation to its neighbours, particularly India, Gandhi left no stones unturned to defend the dragon.

Gandhi said, “There are two competing visions now on the ground. One is the western, India is part of it, which is a maritime vision, and the other is a terrestrial vision, the Belt and Road, where most trade moves from China through the old silk road to Europe and China dominates that trade. That is the clash. That is what China is building. What China is offering to countries around it is the idea of prosperity. China is saying allow us to build your infrastructure. Allow us to put in the communications backbone. Allow us to put in 5G. We will give you the money. You build your own infrastructure, and then we will have prosperity together. That is what they are offering, and it is a very powerful thing to offer. But it is not in our interest. It is not in India’s interest for China to expand out like this.

He called it a civilizational rivalry and said it would have severe consequences for India. He said the United States defends one vision, and China is placing another vision on the table. He said, “My problem is, you [the US] cannot say to India that we will have a defence pact and we will fight with China without the prosperity part. If there is an alternative vision, that vision actually needs to create prosperity. It needs to create wealth.”

When Kapila mentioned the Sri Lanka-China story did not work out well, Gandhi said, “Of course, Sri Lanka has gone very wrong. The Chinese have put in a huge amount of money. A huge amount of money has been stolen. It did not pan out. But the idea that the Chinese are proposing is prosperity. They have given a hundred billion dollars to Pakistan. They have a very clear vision of what that is trying to do. It is a powerful idea. It’s not that it does not have a basis. But from our perspective, I think we need to have an idea that provides prosperity. Of course, there is a defence angle to it, but there has to be an economic angle, and currently, I don’t see an economic angle. Our relationship with the United States, for example, is hugely about defence. When we talk to Americans and Americans talk to us, we talk about defence. We do not talk about how we jointly create prosperity and create a democratic model that can make people rich.

China’s vicious debt traps

Contrary to what Gandhi described, China has been taking over infrastructure projects in countries like Sri Lanka after these countries failed to repay hefty loans. What China is doing is it gives out loans to countries that want to create infrastructure but do not have funds. For the time being, these countries prosper, but when it comes to repaying the loan, there are not enough funds for these countries. As a result, as per the agreement of the loan, China takes over the infrastructure.

In Sri Lanka, China took over a port using similar tactics. In such conditions, even if China uses the infrastructure for military purposes, that country would not be able to do anything. China is also attempting to grab land in neighbouring countries, including India, Nepal and Bhutan, by making changes to its map.

Gandhi talked about the 5G infrastructure that China is offering to other countries. Interesting, China has been accused of spying on the countries that are using its technology, especially in government and academic institutes.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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