Why the Western narrative of China’s ‘debt trap diplomacy’ is another big lie

Jun 11, 2021

To work well, the lie must be introduced early, repeated often and insulated from contradiction by a narrative of “fake news” and accusations of “witch hunts”.


I was reminded of the law by the latest claims of the “debt trap diplomacy” China has allegedly employed across the developing world, supposedly with the express aim of creating aid dependency and taking control of strategic resources and infrastructure.

The narrative of China strategically deploying foreign investment to secure power over developing countries arose among Trump’s acolytes in 2018. John Bolton, then US national security adviser, warned that China was poised to take over Zambia’s national power and utility company to collect on Zambia’s financial obligations.

The most popular example was the troubled Hambantota container port in Sri Lanka. The conservative American Enterprise Institute and Heritage Foundation weighed in with a “China Global Investment Tracker” which identified 300 “troubled Chinese projects” in the developing world worth US$400 billion.

However, work led by Deborah Brautigam of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard’s Meg Rithmire, first published in The Atlantic magazine in February, has raised questions about the “debt trap diplomacy” narrative.

I fear these facts will do little to alter many people’s conviction that China is a malevolent force bent on establishing control over large parts of the world.

To be fair, China is not blameless. For starters, it has emerged at intimidating speed from poverty and isolation to become one of the world’s leading economic forces.

This is extract is from an article written by David Dodwell, republished from South China Morning Post 5 June 2021. Click here to read the original article in its entirety.

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