Donnelly, Senators Express Concerns over China’s “Debt Trap” Diplomacy with Developing Countries

South Bend, Ind. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly and a bipartisan group of 15 other senators expressed concern over potential bailout requests to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by countries who have accepted predatory Chinese infrastructure financing. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the senators asked how the Trump Administration plans to address the dangers of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The senators wrote, in part, “As financially strapped countries negotiate with China to free themselves of mounting debt, Beijing has extracted onerous concessions, including equity in strategically important assets. Further, Beijing has repeatedly used economic pressure to affect foreign policy decisions…It is apparent that…the goal for the [Belt and Road Initiative] is the creation of an economic world order ultimately dominated by China. It is imperative that the United States counters China's attempts to hold other countries financially hostage and force ransoms that further its geo-strategic goals."

Specifically, the letter asked Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary Pompeo:

  • How do you plan to raise the dangers of Chinese infrastructure financing through BRI with the IMF?
  • Do you believe that additional countries will ask for a bailout from the IMF due to BRI? Which countries?
  • As the largest contributor to the IMF, how can the United States use its influence to ensure that bailout terms prevent the continuation of ongoing BRI projects, or the start of new BRI projects?         
  • How can the United States work with allies and partners to educate countries about the risks of Chinese infrastructure loans?
  • How can the United States work with allies and partners to assist countries struggling to repay debts due to BRI?
  • How can the United States work with allies and partners to present an alternative to developing nations regarding investment and infrastructure funding?

The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators David Perdue (R-GA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Steve Daines (R-MT), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), and John Thune (R-SD).

Read the full letter here.

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