As gloom darkens over the global economy amid the COVID-19 Pandemic, less developed countries (LDCs) along the route of the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) have suffered a severe economic blow, weighing on their domestic growth and their ability to cooperate with other countries.
What’s worse is the pandemic-induced crisis hampers these countries confidence, shrouding them in negativity
The pandemic has affected the debt and fiscal sustainability of LDCs and weakened their appeal to foreign investors. According to the World Economic Outlook issued by the International Monetary Fund in April, emerging markets are confronting a sharp tightening in global financial conditions. Against this backdrop, the debt risks of these economies have intensified.
The pandemic has caused multiple restrictions on cross-border travel, transportation and logistics, interrupted global supply chains, and weakened LDCs’ capability of obtaining non-capital production factors. The pandemic has caused the basic stagnation of trade in goods and services for LDCs, and their tourism and financial industries have been hit particularly hard.
The pandemic has caused collective anxiety for Western countries. The discrediting and badmouthing from Western countries have on some level impacted China’s cooperation with BRI countries. Amid the pandemic, some countries with ill-intentions have exaggerated the financial vulnerability of LDCs, creating a toxic business environment for BRI cooperation.
Although the pandemic has weakened the economic growth of LDCs, China continues to provide aid and funds despite falling market factors. China will continue to strengthen coordination with major developed countries and international organizations in an open and inclusive manner, implement foreign aid projects in a pragmatic, flexible and innovative manner, and enhance the resilience of LDCs along the route of the BRI.
China has timely provided medical supplies for LDCs, helping build their public health systems and strengthening their public health governance capacity. According to a white paper on COVID-19 published by China in June, China had sent teams of medical experts to 27 countries and shared anti-epidemic information with over 180 countries and more than 10 international and regional organizations, as of the end of May.
While fully respecting the development concerns of these developing countries, China’s aid is focused on the construction of major cross-regional infrastructure on the basis of full consultation between the participating parties, laying the foundation for the resumption of production in the LDCs.
Even though China was under great pressure during its coronavirus fight in January, China’s solar plant assistance project in Central African Republic was launched on schedule. When it is completed, it will effectively alleviate the power shortage in the country, providing great support to its industrialization and modernization.
China also continues to increase policy communication and coordination with the LDCs, formulating infrastructure assistance plans for relevant countries impacted by the pandemic, and assisting the linkage between trade and industry, so as to improve economic resilience and facilitate post-pandemic recovery.