Between 2008 and 2021, China spent $240 billion bailing out 22 countries that are “almost exclusively” debtors in Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road infrastructure project, including Argentina, Pakistan, Kenya and Turkey, according to the study published Tuesday by researchers from the World Bank, Harvard Kennedy School, Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the US-based research lab AidData.
Though China’s bailouts are still smaller than those provided by the United States or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which regularly makes emergency loans to countries in crisis, it has become a key player for many developing countries.
Beijing’s rise as an international crisis manager looks familiar: The US has taken a similar strategy for nearly a century, offering bailouts for high-debt countries such as those in Latin America during the 1980s debt crisis, the report said.
“We see historical parallels to the era when the US started its rise as a global financial power, especially in the 1930s and after World War 2,” it said.
But there are differences, too.