Debunking the Myth of ‘Debt-trap Diplomacy’

How Recipient Countries Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Critics of the BRI accuse China of pursuing a policy of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’: luring poor, developing countries into agreeing unsustainable loans to pursue infrastructure projects so that, when they experience financial difficulty, Beijing can seize the asset, thereby extending its strategic or military reach. This paper demonstrates that the evidence for such views is limited. 

Research paper ISBN: 978 1 78413 411 2

Officials visit the tunnel of the East Coast Rail Link project in Dungun, Malaysia
on 25 July 2019. Photo credit: Rushdi Samsudin/Contributor/Getty
— Officials visit the tunnel of the East Coast Rail Link project in Dungun, Malaysia on 25 July 2019. Photo credit: Rushdi Samsudin/Contributor/Getty

Lee Jones

Reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London

Shahar Hameiri

Associate Professor of International Politics, University of Queensland