Moon of Alabama
The core of the NYT piece was about the Chinese financed development of the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka:
'China's financial imperialism' is a relatively new genre in western journalism. China is providing loans to other countries to build infrastructure. If those countries can not pay back the loans, China offers to lease and manage the infrastructure built with its money. That somehow is supposed to create a "debt trap for vulnerable countries".
Yesterday the New York Times lamented about Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port Development Project:
The port is in a strategic location right alongside the shipping lines between Asia and the Middle East and Africa.
There were several inconsistencies in the NYT piece. It used old statistics to claim that the port was rarely used. However up-to-date statistics proved the opposite. It also lied about Sri Lanka's debt burden only 10% of which was to China.
Thirty-two months after Moon of Alabama debunked the piece, and twenty- nine months after Peter Lee (aka Chinahand) did similar in greater detail, The Atlantic sets out to do the same:
The Chinese ‘Debt Trap’ Is a Myth
The narrative wrongfully portrays both Beijing and the developing countries it deals with.
It notes that the New York Times anti-China propaganda piece was often used by the Trump administration to attack that country:
The Trump administration pointed to Hambantota to warn of China’s strategic use of debt: In 2018, former Vice President Mike Pence called it “debt-trap diplomacy”—a phrase he used through the last days of the administration—and evidence of China’s military ambitions. Last year, erstwhile Attorney General William Barr raised the case to argue that Beijing is “loading poor countries up with debt, refusing to renegotiate terms, and then taking control of the infrastructure itself.”
But the NYT's central claim of 'finance imperialism' was completely wrong:
Our research shows that Chinese banks are willing to restructure the terms of existing loans and have never actually seized an asset from any country, much less the port of Hambantota. A Chinese company’s acquisition of a majority stake in the port was a cautionary tale, but it’s not the one we’ve often heard. With a new administration in Washington, the truth about the widely, perhaps willfully, misunderstood case of Hambantota Port is long overdue.
The Atlantic piece is well researched and it thoroughly destroyed the case the New York Times had tried to make. It also caught the NYT in an outright lie. The original NYT piece had claimed in its second paragraph:
feasibility studies said the port wouldn’t work
The Atlantic authors however found two studies that said the opposite:
It was the Canadian International Development Agency—not China—that financed Canada’s leading engineering and construction firm, SNC-Lavalin, to carry out a feasibility study for the port. We obtained more than 1,000 pages of documents detailing this effort through a Freedom of Information Act request. The study, concluded in 2003, confirmed that building the port at Hambantota was feasible, and supporting documents show that the Canadians’ greatest fear was losing the project to European competitors.
We reviewed a second feasibility report, produced in 2006 by the Danish engineering firm Ramboll, that made similar recommendations to the plans put forward by SNC-Lavalin, arguing that an initial phase of the project should allow for the transport of non-containerized cargo—oil, cars, grain—to start bringing in revenue, before expanding the port to be able to handle the traffic and storage of traditional containers.
They also found, just like MoA did, that the port debt to China was not relevant for Sri Lanka's payment problems:
Sri Lanka owed more to Japan, the World Bank, and the Asian Development Bank than to China. Of the $4.5 billion in debt service Sri Lanka would pay in 2017, only 5 percent was because of Hambantota. The Central Bank governors under both Rajapaksa and Sirisena do not agree on much, but they both told us that Hambantota, and Chinese finance in general, was not the source of the country’s financial distress.
The authors of the Atlantic piece, who are professors at John Hopkins and Harvard, conclude that there is no Chinese 'financial imperialism'. The whole concept is wrong:
The notion of “debt-trap diplomacy” casts China as a conniving creditor and countries such as Sri Lanka as its credulous victims. On a closer look, however, the situation is far more complex. China’s march outward, like its domestic development, is probing and experimental, a learning process marked by frequent adjustment. After the construction of the port in Hambantota, for example, Chinese firms and banks learned that strongmen fall and that they’d better have strategies for dealing with political risk. They’re now developing these strategies, getting better at discerning business opportunities and withdrawing where they know they can’t win. Still, American leaders and thinkers from both sides of the aisle give speeches about China’s “modern-day colonialism.”
Thanks to The Atlantic for debunking that anti-China dreck the NYT had put on its frontpage.
Just one question: What took you so long?
h/t Ian Goodrum
Posted by b on February 9, 2021 at 18:20 UTC | Permalink
Comments Sampler (Original thread)
^5000The mainstream imperialist media lie CONSTANTLY. Literally 24/7. And it's getting worse.
All of them do it: radio, tv, the newspapers, the movies. The internet. No exceptions.
The corporate Big Lie is pervasive and totalitarian. CBS does it. NBC does it. ABC does it.
CNN does it. FOX does it. NPR does it. And of course the NYTimes and WaPo do it.
Thousands of "diverse" voices telling you the same lies. Enough to convince anyone.
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