Country Report: China (October 2020)

Danielle F. S. Cohen (assisted by Dong Jiaxin)

In the fall of 2020, Chinese analysts assessed the likely impact on Sino–US relations of the US presidential election and praised the effectiveness of China’s pandemic-era foreign policy. They continued to carefully monitor South Korea’s foreign policy and ROK–DPRK relations. They also contested allegations that China’s BRI loans create a “debt trap” for vulnerable countries like Myanmar.

The 2020 US presidential election and Sino–US relations

In Xiandai Guoji Guanxi, No. 8, 2020, Xie Tao argued that China’s rise has contributed to a national identity crisis in the United States that, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and extreme social and political divisions, is transforming US politics. According to Xie, US national identity is based on three components: white supremacy, democratic supremacy, and global hegemony. The rise of China poses a challenge on all three counts. Xie contends that some Americans view the emergence of a strong, non-white global power as creating a “civilizational conflict” or “ethnic competition.” Xie further asserts that in light of the two countries’ completely different social systems, China’s relative success and the United States’ apparent strife have provoked a sense of crisis among some political elites in the United States.

Perhaps most apparent, however, are the ways in which China’s rise has brought into question the United States’ global position. Since the end of World War II, the United States has staked much of its identity on its role as the key power overseeing the “liberal international order” and, since the Cold War ended, has found meaning in its position as the sole global superpower. Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan captures both the importance of this global identity to many Americans and the sense that US power is declining. Economically, China’s nominal GDP is expected to exceed that of the United States by 2030; militarily, the gap between Chinese and US spending is substantial, but decreasing. As China and other countries have become more economically developed and politically powerful, Americans have started to reject the notion that the United States should take an active role in other countries’ affairs. At the same time, Americans have become increasingly dissatisfied with the United States’ global status. Many Americans see China’s more active international role as a threat; the US government has termed China a “strategic competitor.”

Throughout Donald Trump’s first term and reelection bid, Xie argues, China has served as a useful foil, both in the trade war and, more recently, in Trump’s efforts to blame China for the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, Xie charges, this antagonism escalated as the Trump administration restricted the visas of some Chinese students and researchers, closed the Chinese consulate in Houston, and attempted to take down WeChat, all in an effort to rile up Americans against China and increase support for Trump’s reelection bid. The result is a bilateral relationship that has fallen to its lowest level since normalization and that continues to deteriorate. Regardless of the results of the election, Xie concludes, Trump’s success in demonizing China as a fundamental threat to US identity will damage bilateral relations for the foreseeable future; the future, he bleakly declares, is one of “strategic confrontation.”

Writing in the same issue, Diao Daming largely agrees with Xie’s pessimistic predictions about the future of Sino–US relations. Although Diao expects that the specific policies the United States adopts will depend on the president, he does not anticipate a major shift in the underlying US strategic goals. Like Xie, Diao believes that US policy elites from all political backgrounds agree that China is a key competitor to the United States, leaving little room for meaningful policy adjustments. Consequently, Diao believes that relations are stuck in a downward spiral.

China’s pandemic-era diplomacy

In Guoji Wenti Yanjiu, No. 5, 2020, Zhou Xinyu assesses the effectiveness of China’s new “anti-epidemic diplomacy” as the world struggles to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic began, China’s initial focus was on preventing domestic transmission and resolving the resulting production interruptions while in the glare of global attention. (Interestingly, Zhou describes China as “one of” the first countries to experience a large-scale COVID-19 outbreak and claims that it has not yet been established where the first large-scale outbreak occurred in what seems to be an effort to question the general understanding that the pandemic emerged in Wuhan). China adopted a multifaceted diplomatic effort to preserve its global image and counter negative international public opinion that, according to Zhou, had achieved significant results by early fall.

China’s anti-epidemic diplomacy has three key components. First, China has strengthened its multilateral cooperation, particularly through its coordination with the WHO (other observers criticize Chinese authorities for initially covering up the first Wuhan cases) and through other multilateral institutions, such as the G20 and ASEAN. Second, China has emphasized high-level “telephone diplomacy” between Xi Jinping and other global leaders. After initially receiving aid from other countries, China began to send medical aid to other countries as its case counts eased. Finally, China responded to the global public relations crisis posed by the pandemic through “Twitter diplomacy.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and various embassies took to Twitter and Facebook to refute what they saw as Western “slander” against China, while also adopting more traditional means to influence global opinion, such as interviews with local media and speeches to various think tanks designed to influence elite opinion. Zhou argues that the use of social media marked an important shift in Chinese diplomatic techniques because it allowed the government to speak directly to foreign citizens using more casual, personal language than that which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has typically employed.

Overall, Zhou argues that China’s anti-epidemic diplomacy has been very effective in both promoting domestic mitigation and control efforts and ensuring China’s foreign objectives of maintaining its global image and strengthening global cooperation. When the first cases became public, Zhou charges, the United States and other Western countries vocally criticized China for allegedly covering up the initial cases and for a lack of transparency about subsequent infections. The Western media, Zhou contends, also asserted that the pandemic would have a dire impact on China’s economy and portrayed Chinese people as responsible for the pandemic because they eat wild animals, leading to rising prejudice against Chinese people and culture.

China’s public diplomacy aimed to counteract these negative Western impressions. According to Zhou, coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal became far less negative between mid-January and mid-March 2020, which Zhou attributes to the success of a public diplomacy initiative focused on transparency and open communication. As cases in the United States spiraled out of control, Zhou argues, Western analysts began to criticize the Western response and China’s image recovered. Rather than depicting China as a failure, they began to see China as a success.

Zhou also lauds China’s anti-epidemic diplomacy for strengthening China’s relations with various countries. The pandemic has created an opportunity to rethink old global divisions. Although the United States and Australia are still critical of China, Europe has been far more neutral. Traditional US allies, such as Japan and South Korea, have also been fairly warm toward China. China’s cooperation with various East Asian countries has been particularly notable; regional political trust, policy coordination, and mutual assistance have helped the region to control the pandemic.

Comparing China’s management of COVID-19 to the earlier H1N1 crisis in the US and Zika crisis in Brazil, Zhou argues that a country faces its biggest challenge during the gap between the emergence of a crisis and the point at which it becomes effectively controlled. During this time period, active diplomacy is crucial. Emerging countries like China can increase their global influence by gaining the support of prominent international organizations through transparent communications. It is also essential to respond quickly so that rumors do not spread and to avoid charges of a “cover up.” China’s foreign aid has had a substantive, positive impact on foreign perceptions of China, while US arrogance has brought global criticism.

Zhou argues that the COVID-19 pandemic may prove to be a turning point in the history of international relations. The pandemic has laid bare several profound challenges that China faces. First, Western policy toward China is imbued with bias, much of it a legacy of the Cold War. Many Westerners view China irrationally; they attribute the emergence of the virus to an “evil” Chinese government or demand “reimbursement.” As China’s power has increased rapidly, many in the West have begun to think in binaries: China’s authoritarianism contrasted with Western democracy; China’s rise contrasted with Western decline. As a useful “other,” China has been dragged into domestic Western political discourse. In Zhou’s view, this will be a longstanding problem for China. China must try to break this cycle of thought or else it will remain at a disadvantage in the US-led international system.

A second key challenge for China is major power competition, which has become an increasingly apparent feature of the contemporary international system. The United States sees China as a “strategic competitor,” and the success of China’s anti-epidemic diplomacy has increased US feelings of insecurity and provoked the Trump administration. Zhou argues that managing Sino–US relations will be a long-term struggle and that the inability to achieve stable relations with the United States will influence China’s relations with other major powers. Following the pandemic, China will struggle to manage relations with other major powers while the United States pushes great power competition.

Third, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed flaws in the contemporary multilateral system: the WHO has no binding authority. Bilateral cooperation has been more common than multilateral cooperation. Although China provided information about domestic cases, other countries have hidden information or failed to act in a timely fashion. The difficulty in predicting other countries’ behavior (especially that of the United States) has made it hard for countries to cooperate through multilateral mechanisms. Outside of East Asia, global governance of the pandemic has failed. The United States has blamed the World Health Organization for siding with China and has cut off its funding, thereby inserting great power politics into this multilateral mechanism and undermining the international system.

Despite these challenges, Zhou argues that the pandemic presents an opportunity for China to achieve its” community of common destiny.” Given the relative success of East Asia in combatting the virus, he contends that China should encourage the further development of
East Asian regional cooperation mechanisms to advance global coordination. In addition, China should work to strengthen global governance of public health issues. The existing system has become too politicized and is unable to address the current crisis. Furthermore, the WHO is too dependent on voluntary contributions which come with strings attached and allow members to steer its activities. Finally, China must continue its public diplomacy efforts in order to overcome Western prejudice. The active use of social media by non-governmental entities will play a key role in improving China’s image overseas.

South Korean diplomatic relations

In Guoji Wenti Yanjiu, No. 4, 2020, Bi Yingda analyzes Moon Jae-in’s efforts to adopt a more independent approach in South Korean policy toward North Korea and Northeast Asia. This policy has generated some success in North–South relations, but has also provoked tensions with the United States. Moon’s diplomatic security strategy has three key components. First, Moon has sought to strengthen South Korea’s alliance relations with the United States, while also developing South Korean defense capabilities. Second, Moon has tried to improve relations with North Korea and to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Third, Moon has focused on both great power diplomacy and “Northeast Asia +” multilateral cooperation.

Bi situates Moon’s foreign policy in the context of post-Cold War South Korean diplomacy. Conservative administrations have taken a firm line toward North Korea, but these policies have failed. The resulting insecurity pushed these conservative administrations closer to the United States, which worsened North–South relations and Sino–South Korean relations. Bi attributes the decreasing influence of the conservative faction less to Park’s tabloid impeachment and more to the realization by the South Korean people that these policies were not advancing their interests. By contrast, the progressives, led by Moon, have defined peninsular affairs as “internal affairs of the nation.” Moon’s independent policy approach recognizes the close links between domestic politics and South Korea’s security environment.

Moon’s diplomatic approach prioritizes peninsular peace and stability. Recognizing that international sanctions have only encouraged North Korea to develop its nuclear and missile capabilities, Moon opposes war, North Korean regime collapse, and forced annexation. With these positions, Moon not only pushes back against the Trump administration’s advocacy of the use of force to resolve the nuclear crisis, but also reassures North Korea. At the same time, Moon has tried to increase South Korea’s room to maneuver in developing its North Korea policy. Rejecting the conservative policy approach, Moon has instead attempted to promote dialogue with North Korea, a feeling of reconciliation, and a shared Korean identity. Moon has also sought to take the lead on denuclearization efforts and to decrease the influence of external states.

According to Bi, Moon’s policy seeks to balance South Korea’s bilateral relations with North Korea and the United States, respectively. To this end, Moon has tried to strengthen South Korea’s independent defense capabilities and combat authority, while also pursuing a more equal alliance relationship with the United States. At the same time, Moon has sought to balance South Korea’s relations with various regional powers. In part, this policy corrects the damage done to Sino–South Korean relations by the Park administration’s decision to deploy THAAD. At the same time, Moon’s New Northern Policy and New Southern Policy aim to strengthen South Korea’s relations with countries from Russia to Southeast Asia. By strengthening its regional relations, South Korea seeks to develop a more autonomous foreign policy and to avoid pressure to side with either China or the United States.

A final, key component of Moon’s foreign policy approach is his effort to obtain the political support of the South Korean people. Bi argues that the anti-globalization trend has increased the prominence of nationalism worldwide, and that the threat of this trend is even greater in a homogeneous, economically strong country like South Korea. As GDP per capita has increased, South Koreans feel increasingly proud of their national accomplishments and entitled to a more autonomous foreign policy. This feeling has spurred South Korea’s pursuit of greater international influence and “middle-power” status. Moon’s more independent policy is designed to gain the support of the South Korean citizenry.

According to Bi, Moon’s policy approach has been quite effective in easing tensions and increasing stability on the peninsula. The United States has dialed back its rhetoric about resolving the nuclear crisis through the use of force and stepped back from large-scale military exercises with South Korea. Tensions between North Korea and South Korea have also eased. Bi claims that at their bilateral summits, North Korea and the United States agreed on the basic principles for the “complete denuclearization” of the peninsula and an easing of relations. Moon’s policy has also enabled South Korea to make progress toward regaining operational command of its troops during wartime and to increase its defense capabilities. Furthermore, South Korea has been able to balance its relations with major powers by improving its relationship with China. Bi approvingly notes Moon’s “new three nos” promise, according to which South Korea promises not to deploy additional THAAD systems, join the US missile defense system, or promote the multilateralization of the US–ROK alliance. High-level exchanges have contributed to a consensus on how to approach the Korean nuclear crisis. Moon’s successful multilateral diplomacy has increased regional cooperation and given South Korea more diplomatic space.

Nevertheless, the United States remains a key constraint on Moon’s implementation of an independent foreign policy. The United States does not support South Korean efforts to develop a more independent defense posture. The Trump administration’s pressure on South Korea to bear more of the financial burden for its defense has revealed cracks in the alliance. Furthermore, the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to withdraw its troops, which makes South Korea feel insecure. The United States and South Korea have not yet agreed on a timeline for when wartime operational control will be returned to South Korea (the pandemic is further complicating this issue by interfering with joint training exercises).

The United States also opposes South Korean efforts to take charge of the denuclearization process and to construct a peace mechanism. Although it supports Moon’s policy toward North Korea in principle, it does not want North–South relations to get too close. Bi argues that the United States has been stubborn in its North Korea policy, which leaves the United States and North Korea in a deadlock and makes it hard for Moon to pursue this more independent approach. The United States also insists that South Korea not violate sanctions imposed on North Korea for its nuclear weapons program in its pursuit of development projects with the North. Furthermore, the United States has been reluctant to declare an end to the Korean War. Meanwhile, US pressure on South Korea regarding other foreign policy issues further limits Moon’s autonomy.

Another key limitation on Moon’s independent policy has been unstable North–South relations. Because of US pressure, South Korea has been unable to implement an economic cooperation agreement with North Korea, and North Korea has grown increasingly critical. North Korea’s decisions in June to sever its main communication link with South Korea and to bomb the joint liaison office in Kaesong mark a significant downturn in relations. Within South Korea, conservatives continue to oppose Moon’s policy and to push for a more aggressive approach to the North.

Looking ahead to the second half of Moon’s term, Bi expects this progressive policy toward North Korea to continue. Nevertheless, Bi questions whether Moon will be able to overcome US constraints. Much depends on how much space the United States offers Moon and how well Moon is able to balance the demands of the United States against his desire to develop relations with North Korea. Furthermore, the US–South Korean alliance is undergoing substantial adjustments. The Trump administration’s demands have only increased South Korean nationalism and support for a more independent foreign policy. Although differences are emerging between the United States and South Korea on a host of issues, from alliance multilateralization to the Indo-Pacific strategy, Moon aims to reform the alliance, not to dissolve it. Bi expects South Korea to continue to pursue balanced relations with various major powers and to pursue multilateral diplomacy, but also anticipates that South Korea will find it hard to navigate between the demands of the United States and of China. Bi further predicts that the United States will pressure South Korea to violate the “new three nos” policy and will push South Korea into taking a role in the US Indo-Pacific strategy. Bi concludes that the key task for South Korean leaders will be to achieve a more independent foreign policy while preserving the US–South Korean alliance.

In Dongbeiya Xuekan, No. 5, 2020, Li Zhao analyzes the North Korea–South Korea–US relationship in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. As 2020 began, US–North Korean relations had deteriorated, although Donald Trump still hoped for a diplomatic breakthrough that would boost his reelection campaign. Under Moon, South Korea was pursuing warmer relations with North Korea, while also seeking to maintain its alliance relations with the United States. The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted each of these three countries’ policies and their interactions with each other.

In late December 2019, just as the first news of the Wuhan outbreak emerged, North Korea announced a new “frontal breakthrough strategy.” Politically, North Korea has restructured its leadership and bureaucracy to prioritize economic development. On the military front, North Korea emphasizes the construction of high-tech weapons (nuclear weapons and long-range missiles) to strengthen its self-defense capabilities. A third key component of the “frontal breakthrough strategy” is economic self-dependence. This self-dependence has become particularly important since January 2020, when North Korea closed its borders with China and Russia to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Finally, North Korea seeks a regional environment that is conducive to its economic development. North Korea expects to struggle against the United States for a long time, but remains open to dialogue if its demands are met.

Since the emergence of the pandemic, North Korea has actively adjusted its foreign policy. Like U.S policy toward North Korea, North Korean policy toward the United States combines sternness with warmer overtures. On the one hand, North Korean officials sharply criticize the Trump administration’s continued advocacy of sanctions as contradicting its support for aid to help North Korea combat the pandemic and have sought to keep pressure on the United States through nuclear diplomacy. At the same time, however, North Korea has attempted to maintain a personal relationship with Trump through high-level official communications. With the US election nearing, North Korea realized that the immediate resumption of the bilateral dialogue was unfeasible, and instead focused on maintaining the Kim–Trump relationship.

North Korea has also transformed its policy toward South Korea. Despite Moon’s efforts to warm relations, North Korea sees no role for South Korea in its “frontal breakthrough strategy” and is not interested in improving relations. Initially, it seemed as if the pandemic might provide an opening for cooperation. In early January, Kim Jong-un wrote to Moon Jae-in to express North Koreans’ gratitude for South Korean efforts to combat the virus and the two sides chose to deal with sporadic incidents along their border in a low-key manner. However, by the middle of the year, bilateral relations had again taken a turn for the worse. Despite more aggressive North Korean actions during June, Li argues that North Korea subsequently demonstrated restraint and that the North Korean media began to decrease the number of critical articles about the ROK. Li concludes that North Korea carefully planned this series of events in an effort to seize control over North–South relations. Although North Korean relations with the United States and South Korea remain fraught, North Korea has tried to strengthen its alliances with China and Russia by heaping praise upon their leaders.

According to Li, South Korea’s main problem is how to balance its policy toward North Korea with its policy toward the United States. Although the Moon administration has made an enormous effort to improve relations with North Korea, it is hard to reverse 70 years of mistrust and antagonism. South Korean overtures toward North Korea are also inconsistent with South Korean dependence on the United States, which under Trump pursued a “maximum pressure” approach toward the North. Moon saw the pandemic as an opening to improve relations with North Korea. In the first half of the year, Li argues, South Korea’s warm outreach toward North Korea indicated that it was considering lifting unilateral sanctions in order to improve bilateral relations. However, cross-border relations took a sharp turn when two North Korean defectors circulated leaflets over the border at the end of May. Li argues that activities such as this one are difficult for the South Korean government to regulate and that domestic conservative political forces saw North Korea’s angry response as useful for their efforts to challenge Moon’s friendly policies.

South Korea sees close coordination with the United States as essential to counteracting North Korean provocations. Nevertheless, tensions have emerged in the US–South Korean alliance over South Korea’s desire to regain wartime operational control before the end of Moon’s term and US demands that South Korea bear more of its defense costs. US pressure on defense payments continued even after the pandemic began, but South Korea tried to stall until it knew the outcome of the US presidential election. Li expects US–South Korean tensions to increase if the North–South relationship improves, but to be papered over if the Korean Peninsula again becomes tense.

In contrast to Moon’s warm approach toward North Korea, the Trump administration adopted an increasingly rigid policy of “maximum pressure.” Despite two summits, North Korean–US relations deadlocked. Although Trump became the first US president to enter North Korean territory in June 2019, working-level dialogues disintegrated. Li argues that the prospect for resuming the dialogue remains grim because of failures in the US policy approach. The US government does not believe that North Korea is willing to abandon its nuclear program and is consequently unwilling to relax sanctions. This mindset prevents negotiations from moving forward. Li also criticizes Trump for relying on a small circle of advisers rather than coordinating his North Korea policy with the heads of various departments. Furthermore, Trump totally disregards the policy preferences of allies like South Korea and Japan, which advocate vastly different approaches toward North Korea, and is unable to work with them to craft a cohesive policy approach. The Trump administration’s decision to continue sanctions, even after North Korea stopped its nuclear tests, and its threat to apply “secondary sanctions” to countries that do business with North Korea have further angered other countries in the region.

This rigid policy has persisted since the pandemic began. The United States has continued to strengthen its sanctions regime. Nevertheless, Trump has made overtures to Kim Jong-un in an effort to resume the dialogue and continues to boast about his successful personal relationship with the North Korean leader. Li attributes these boasts to an effort to distract from the Trump administration’s poor handling of the pandemic in the United States and to Trump’s limited diplomatic successes. However, North Korea appears uninterested in meeting with Trump again.

Li concludes with a number of predictions about the post-pandemic Korean Peninsula situation. In Li’s view, South Korea will be forced to choose between China and the United States; the United States will use its alliance with South Korea to pressure China and will try to sever South Korea’s relationship with China in certain strategic fields. Meanwhile, North Korea will see its longstanding alliance with China as a key tool by which to hold off US pressure; China and North Korea will consequently develop stronger political and economic ties. Li expects South Korea–North Korea relations to remain “tense but stable.” Although Moon’s desire to strengthen cross-border relations will increase the stability of the bilateral relationship, tensions between China and the United States are likely to aggravate DPRK–ROK relations as each government sides with its ally. Regardless of the results of the presidential election, Li expects US–North Korean relations to be poor because of the US bureaucracy’s fundamental hostility toward North Korea. Overall, Li is pessimistic about the possibility for resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis, blaming the rigidity of the US policy and the deterioration of Sino–US relations, which will make it hard for either country to broker a deal.

Sino–Myanmar Economic Cooperation

In Nanya Yanjiu, No. 2, 2020, Liu Wu and Liu Chengkai criticize “debt trap theory,” which holds that China uses BRI-related loans to entrap other countries. This view has become widespread among foreign analysts. By contrast, Chinese academics argue that economic cooperation is mutually beneficial and is based on equality. They see largely Western concerns about the debt trap as another manifestation of “China threat theory.” Chinese observers are also worried that Western discussion of the debt trap has made China’s potential partners wary—for example, Malaysia and Sierra Leone have recently cancelled planned projects, and China has had to make concessions to Myanmar in order to continue the development of the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.

Liu and Liu argue that the United States has advanced the notion of a debt trap because it is worried that as other countries cooperate more closely with China, they will be less influenced by the United States. Likewise, they argue that India sees Chinese cooperation with other South Asian countries as a threat to India’s position as the hegemon of the subcontinent. Australia has used similar language, with particular focus on Pacific island countries. Not surprisingly, Liu and Liu challenge these views, arguing that China’s BRI policies are designed to promote win-win cooperation and a community of common destiny.

Turning to Myanmar, Liu and Liu note that the IMF rates the risk of a foreign debt crisis in Myanmar as low. Most of Myanmar’s loans are from China and Japan, which have long invested in Myanmar’s development. Myanmar has few other options: Western sanctions have limited its ability to borrow from other countries. These loans, Liu and Liu argue, are crucial because Myanmar is unable to raise enough money from taxation to pay for government expenditures. Consequently, they conclude that China’s loans to Myanmar help its development and will not entrap it.

Liu and Liu conclude that government debt is not a new phenomenon; countries have long used foreign loans to fund their operations and there is no shortage of examples of debt crises that have occurred in countries around the world. Developing countries lack sufficient capital and must borrow it from overseas; this is an unavoidable stage of development. As a very underdeveloped country, Myanmar is in dire need of capital and it is only natural that it would borrow from China, with which it has long-standing ties. These loans are mainly long-term and low- or no-interest. Given these terms and Myanmar’s reasonable debt ratio, they argue there is simply no reason to argue that a debt trap exists in Myanmar.

Furthermore, Liu and Liu contend that China’s interest in the BRI is sincere. Conversely, they charge that US, Australian, and Indian fears of a debt trap merely reflect those actors’ power-based insecurities. Each country is concerned that these loans will increase Chinese influence in their regions of interest. Factions within countries along the BRI path sometimes echo these concerns about the debt trap to attack their domestic opponents or to gain better terms from China.

These attacks on Chinese loans hamper China’s ability to implement the BRI. Consequently, China must adopt several key measures. First, China must use various media and channels to criticize “debt trap theory” and promote the mutual benefits of Chinese economic assistance. Second, China must reiterate that it has no intention of controlling other countries through loans and investment and that it provides all loans in accordance with international standards. China is generally flexible with countries that do run into debt problems. Third, China must continue to develop innovative investment and financing models. Finally, China must focus on the wellbeing of people in the various countries along the BRI so that they benefit from this cooperation. This will strengthen public support for China’s economic programs and for the BRI.

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