An interview with Sijbren de Jong, a strategic analyst at The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies. Interviewer: Małgosia Krakowska
MAŁGOSIA KRAKOWSKA: When the Chinese president announced the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), it was hailed as the “project of the century”. A report that you co-authored for the Hague Centre on Strategic Studies sheds much less optimism. What raises your concerns?
SIJBREN DE JONG: The answer is hidden in the modus operandi of the project. “The One Belt” refers to the land, economic belt, while the “One Road” refers to the maritime corridor. Under the scheme, Chinese financial institutions issue loans to countries in which the proposed OBOR related infrastructure will be constructed. Countries with a poor trade balance, for example in the Western Balkans, may benefit from the Chinese loans but also see their debt burden increase as a result.