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Australian minister says BRI not in line with country’s foreign policy

Chinese President Xi Jinping

China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is running into rough weather. Not only has the multibillion project running through several countries been severely disrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic but the rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics with the focus on Indo-Pacific has also dealt a blow.

An ANI report said that relations between Australia and China were further jolted after the former cancelled agreements to participate in the BRI projects. Australia’s foreign minister Marise Payne on Saturday said that the participation in BRI projects is not in line with the country’s foreign policy.

About 15 projects under the BRI umbrella worth $2.4 billion are facing uncertainty, the London based Overseas Development Institute (ODI) in a report said.

Sensing trouble over BRI, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been trying to reposition BRI and its benefits.

Speaking at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 recently said that Beijing was committed to make the BRI "a public road open to all" instead of a "private path owned by one single party," China Daily reported.

“All interested countries are welcome aboard to take part in the cooperation and share in its benefits. Belt and Road cooperation pursues development, aims at mutual benefits and conveys a message of hope," the news organisation quoted Xi as saying.

Meanwhile, as China’s overall debt is rising continuously amid Beijing’s increased support to the BRI projects. China’s financial assistance is directed in the form of trade credits, foreign direct investment advances under BRI besides direct loans.

The Washington-based Institute of International Finance (IIF) last year said that China’s debt was on track to hit a whopping 335 per cent of GDP. This however included debt across all sectors such as household, government, financial and non-financial corporate.