The European Union has unveiled a project called ‘Global Gateway’ worth 300 billion euros (340 billion dollars).
The project is seen as a response to China’s “Belt and Road” strategy.
According to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, “it is the Build Back Better World initiative and the European Global Gateway that are mutually reinforcing. We know that we are building on the same principles and now we are looking to together identify the most promising projects where we can invest in our common initiatives. ”
The bloc will mobilize financial aid for public and private investments in infrastructure around the world.
“We want to make Global Gateway a trusted brand that stands out for its high quality, reliable standards and high level of transparency and good governance,” said Von der Leyen.
“We are deeply convinced that this will ensure that the investment makes a real difference on the ground. And that it is done in a sustainable way,” she added.
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Experts believe the strategy is an offshoot of a plan by the G7 countries to offer developing countries an alternative to the Belt and Road presented in June at the Industrial Powers Summit in Cornwall.
“This marks the first serious effort on the part of Europe to put together packages and determine funding mechanisms, so that countries considering taking loans to China have an alternative option,” according to Andrew Small, Principal transatlantic researcher at the German Marshall Fund. .
The Belt and Road is a flagship project of Chinese President Xi Jinping that was launched in 2013.
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Beijing has invested 139.8 billion dollars in this project which is the centerpiece of Chinese foreign policy.
The communist country says it aims to develop land and sea infrastructure to better connect China with Asia, Europe and Africa for trade and development, and it has found many partners around the world.
However, the West believes it is a tool for China to influence poorer countries.
They criticize Beijing for pushing emerging economies into too much debt and allege that the secret bidding process is prone to corruption.
China maintains that it respects the sovereignty of its partners while providing loans that benefit joint projects, while critics say Beijing’s contractual terms ignore human, labor and environmental rights violations.
(With contributions from agencies)