Belt and Road-related loans worth over £70 billion have been loaned from China to overseas.In 2017 Sri Lanka handed over Hambantota, a port on the country’s south coast, to China on a 99-year lease after accruing debts of over£6 billion to Chinese state-owned companies.
Philip Hammond, Foreign Secretary, leading the UK’s delegation to the forum, called for “full transparency around [Belt and Road] projects, and around the sustainability of the debt that partner countries are incurring to secure them.”
Britain has not signed up to the Belt and Road project, with Prime Minister Theresa May saying that although China was a “natural partner”, the Belt and Road project must reach “international standards”.
In March, Italy signed up to the project, becoming the first G7 nation to do so. Switzerland is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding to sign up to it on Sunday.
Africa has been another focal point of Belt and Road investment, with Ethiopia this week saying that China had written off interest payments the former country had owed the latter through to the end of 2018.
In 2017 China opened a military outpost in the in Djibouti, a small Horn of Africa nation also signed up to Belt and Road.