KUWAIT: To provide a forum for informed debate about global economic issues that affect Kuwaiti policymakers, investors, and businesses, the US Embassy and Reconnaissance Research hosted a discussion about China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ at the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday.
Peter Raymond, a prominent American advisor on infrastructure projects, presented an analysis of Belt and Road Initiative projects in the Middle East and Asia. He described both the benefits and the issues these projects have encountered, such as high operating costs, poor construction quality, debt burdens, and corruption scandals. He also discussed China’s Digital Silk Road, the technological extension of Belt and Road that has raised concerns about technology dependency and surveillance.
“Discussions like this increase transparency and knowledge as Kuwaiti government and business leaders make important decisions,” US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Larry Memmott said. “Mr Raymond has decades of experience advising governments and companies, and we hope that his analysis will help decision makers evaluate offers for infrastructure projects and protect Kuwaiti interests. While there could be benefits for countries interested in the Belt and Road Initiative, governments and investors should be aware that China’s infrastructure projects have a troublesome record of financial unsustainability, threats to national sovereignty, and environmental degradation.”
Founder and CEO of Reconnaissance Research Abdulaziz Al-Anjari commented, “In our newly-established China Affairs Desk at Reconnaissance Research, we are working to understand how the Chinese government works and the means through which it achieves its goals so that we can anticipate potential Chinese influence in the Gulf. We thank Mr Peter Raymond for his fact-based and insightful presentation.”
US Embassy Cultural Attaché Nelson Wen concluded: “The event was attended by many high-level guests at the Chamber of Commerce and over 150 that joined remotely. The US Embassy plans to continue to collaborate with Reconnaissance Research as a strategic partner to hold discussions on international issues that could affect Kuwait’s trade, investment outlook, and future.”