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The attempt has been widely criticized by Republicans and

Democrats both as a blunder. Former US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick, who famously said that China should beco

me a “responsible stakeholder”, sighed that when China was playing the role of a responsible stakeholder, the US tried to stop it.

The US is trying to do the same again.

While the AIIB provides much needed infrastructure financing for countries, the China-propo

sed Belt and Road Initiative aims to build connectivity linking Asia, Europe and Africa. The initia

tive, which has been endorsed by more than 100 countries, is aimed at building roads, bridges, railways, ports and other infrastructure facilities, in ord

er to help expedite economic growth, especially in developing countries, which are often haunted by high youth unemployment.

And building roads and bridges, no doubt, will benefit the world much more than the 800-plus military bases that the US has built across the world.

However, when Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte indicated that Rome would sign a mem

orandum of agreement with Beijing on the Belt and Road Initiative during President Xi Jinping’s ong

oing visit to Italy, the White House became furious again. Garrett Marquis, a White House National Security Council spo

kesman, called the BRI a “vanity project” and a debt trap. He even said the accord Italy planned to sign was “a political hazard”.

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