In the face of suggestions that the recently signed Memorandum of Under-standing (MOU) on the Belt and Road Initiative (B&RI) could render Guyana indebted to China, Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge, says it is not a loan agreement but merely represents an intention embraced by the two States.
China’s Belt and Road initiative (B&RI), launched by the Chinese Government in 2013, aims to enhance the orderly free-flow of economic factors and the efficient allocation of resources, according to a press release from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Its intention is to further market integration and create a regional economic cooperation framework, a move which has been widely criticized as one to ensure global market dominance by China.
“China views infrastructure projects in the context of a bid to build regional and global networks and views such projects in the long term and this initiative is a means of laying a claim to such arteries,” Greenidge was quoted in the statement as saying.
The Foreign Affairs Head emphasized that China’s general inclination to fund infrastructural projects complements Guyana’s intention to take advantage of the MOU for related development. He further explained the incentives of Guyana’s engagement with China as one where “China is prepared to engage without multiple-layered political and other conditions.”
Meanwhile, Guyana’s Ambassador to China, Bayney Karran, has stated that there must be balance in the execution of diplomatic relations since foreign investment is important to development.
“One should certainly exercise caution with one’s international interlocutors. In Guyana, we have had some bad experiences with some Chinese companies and this is very much in the public mind… When investors don’t operate like good corporate citizens, the onus is on us to ensure that our laws, regulations and customs are applied and enforced,” Karran was quoted in the Foreign Affairs statement as saying.
The Guyanese diplomat further explained that many Chinese companies are not only more open to doing business in States like Guyana, but are willing to take the greatest risks for such investments.
“One has to have a balance between what is coming in and what we can utilize. It is up to us to filter the good ones from the bad because Guyana is open to all investors… We have to be careful that we don’t throw the baby out with the bath water,” Karran was further quoted as saying.
The Foreign Minister pointed out that “recent work undertaken by William & Mary College [Virginia, USA] suggests that developing States have received significant additional responses, thanks to the B&RI and that few of the 68 States which have accessed it have suffered the kind of horrors that are being promulgated.”
While some countries such as Pakistan and Sri Lanka have experienced some difficulty with their projects, Greenidge noted that not all responsibility can be laid at the door of the Chinese initiative.