|Malta says it’s considering joining China’s Belt and Road investment scheme
|Author: CSEBA / SEEbiz / CNBC
|14th March 2019
|LONDON - Another European country is weighing the possibility of joining China’s international infrastructure investment plan.
Malta, a small country in the Mediterranean that’s part of the European Union, has indicated there’s a possibility that it could join China’s Belt and Road Initiative. In an exclusive interview, Edward Scicluna, the country’s finance minister, said that “certain prejudices” should not come in the way of good business.
“One has to be wary of any country, especially with political ambitions or any sort of ambitions, but that’s life,” Scicluna told CNBC in Brussels.
The Belt and Road scheme is meant to create a vast global network of land, sea and digital connections linking China with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Critics say the unprecedented infrastructure plan will favor Chinese firms, boost Beijing’s international influence and force developing nations to take on high debt burdens.
“You have to be careful, but it doesn’t mean you say no to any business, because of certain prejudices, or this, or that, or because someone is pressuring you. For a country to survive and to be competitive, especially a small country, we need to have diversification,” Scicluna said.
Earlier this month, Italy — the euro zone’s third-largest economy — signaled its interest in joining the Chinese plan. Other European countries, namely Greece and Portugal, have also been supportive of Beijing’s efforts.
But there’s much less support for Beijing’s global investment push in the U.S. The White House has previously said Italy’s potential involvement in the BRI could hurt its international reputation, according to the Financial Times.
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