Sonia Aggarwal, a Senior Advisor to President Joe Biden on climate policy, lauded the Chinese Communist Party’s controversial “Belt and Road” Initiative in an unearthed op-ed.
Aggarwal, who’s worked in the White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy since January, authored an op-ed for Forbes in December 2017: “The China Belt And Road Initiative Could Help – Or Hurt – Clean Energy In Emerging Economies.”
The article, which concludes that “recent developments suggest hope for China’s green Belt and Road Initiative,” evaluates the progress of the initiative based on its adherence to “green” energy goals. It fails to mention how the Chinese Communist Party has weaponized the Belt and Road Initiative to financially exploit developing countries and expand its global hegemony.
As the U.S. State Department has warned, Beijing “uses the Belt and Road Initiative and other undertakings to expand foreign markets for Chinese companies and as a means of drawing nations, particularly their political and economic elites, into Beijing’s geopolitical orbit.”
Its “infrastructure projects — ports, railroads, highways, dams, industrial parks, civil nuclear facilities and other energy related initiatives, and more — typically rely on imported Chinese workers rather than local labor, and sometimes involve 50- to 100-year business relationships that entrench China’s long-term access to local elites and confer power over key parts of the host country’s critical infrastructure,” warned the department.
Aggarwal fails to cite any of the aforementioned concerns, instead uncritically quoting International Renewable Energy Agency Director-General Adnan Amin, who claimed “the [Belt and Road] Initiative can not only help to interconnect electricity grids and deploy more renewable energy, but it can also expand electricity markets to countries with extremely high renewable energy potential, including those in Central Asia. China has the technology and the resources, and it can help to achieve these goals by building partnerships and cooperation.”
Aggarwal herself encourages the continued expansion of Chinese energy and increase international reliance on the country:
Due to domestic policy and market advancements, the Chinese grid is already getting better at maximizing energy from renewable resources, but this could be further helped by building out transmission lines within China as well as better integrating with neighboring regions. And if excess power generation persists on China’s grid, it could be exported to neighboring regions to meet growing energy demand. Certainly, using the Belt and Road-related overseas investments to build clean power plants rather than coal would help solidify China’s leadership in the global energy industry of the future.
“If China’s Belt and Road Initiative is truly green, it will have a global benefit,” Aggarwal concludes after describing “recent developments” as “promising.”
“Just as the United States looks to be forfeiting its seat at the negotiating table for international trade deals, China is stepping into the lead, going beyond the old-fashioned trade agreement to emphasize infrastructure and better energy connectivity over much of the globe,” she adds.