China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has left a number of lower- and middle-income countries with “hidden debts” totaling $385 billion, reports the Financial Times. New research suggests that many countries’ financial liabilities linked to the BRI have been systematically under-reported for years. This has resulted in mounting undisclosed liabilities that governments might be obliged to pay.
The findings are part of a new report published by AidData, an international development research lab based at the College of William & Mary in Virginia, which has analyzed more than 13,000 aid- and debt-financed projects worth more than $843 billion across 165 countries, over 18 years to the end of 2017.
The AidData researchers estimated that existing debts stemming from Chinese lending are “substantially larger” than previously understood by credit rating agencies and other intergovernmental organizations with surveillance responsibilities.