Bangladesh: China refuses to invest in high pollution coal projects under Belt and Road
"China turns its back on Bangladesh BRI coal projects", 11 March 2021
China has told Bangladesh it will not fund coal mines and polluting power plants, as Beijing took the first tentative steps towards fulfilling its promises of sustainable Belt and Road investment.
In a letter seen by the Financial Times, China’s embassy to Bangladesh informed the local Ministry of Finance that “the Chinese side shall no longer consider projects with high pollution and high energy consumption, such as coal mining [and] coal-fired power stations”.
The letter, which was sent last month during negotiations over $3.6bn in infrastructure loans agreed in 2016 that Dhaka now wishes to repurpose, was a rare signal of Beijing’s hesitancy to fund polluting coal projects as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The BRI is President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy drive to strengthen China’s trade and infrastructure ties across dozens of countries.
It marked “the first indication I’ve seen of [China’s promises of a green BRI] translating into action on the ground”, said Simon Nicholas, an Australia-based analyst for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.
It remained unclear, however, whether the embassy’s letter was merely a reflection of conditions in Bangladesh or a broader move away from coal, he added. [...]