Q: Why are you raising concerns about World Bank loans to China?
A: When I got wind the World Bank approved an over $1 billion a year plan to award China with low-interest loans through 2025, I raised a big red flag.
These loans are categorized for structural and environmental reforms under the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) division. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson says the funds will be used for “poverty alleviation.”
This US Senator wasn’t born yesterday. News reports have linked World Bank funds to the ruling Communist regime’s systematic repression of Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang province, which includes mass internment and forced labor.
Let’s be clear. Institutions like the World Bank have an incumbent responsibility to vet human-rights risks when money is handed out for so-called “technical and vocational education and training.” This language mirrors what the Chinese Communist Party euphemistically calls its internment camps.
There’s two big reasons Americans see red when they hear about deals like this. For starters, the American tax-payer should not be put on the hook to underwrite loans for the world’s second-largest economy. China is our biggest competitor. And right now, every farmer in Iowa is hurting from the tariff turf-war playing out at the trade negotiating tables.
What’s more, freedom-loving Americans should not send money to a Communist regime and subsidize projects in a country that imprisons and enslaves people based upon their ethnicity and religious beliefs. Misusing American tax dollars to support the agenda of China’s repressive Communist regime is entirely objectionable and unacceptable.
Q: What are you doing to protect U.S. tax dollars and protect religious liberty?
A: I’m on the same page with President Trump’s Treasury Department when Secretary [Steve] Mnuchin objected to the World Bank’s plan.
China is the world’s second largest economy. It needs to graduate from World Bank lending programs, which are intended for low- and middle-income nations with per-capita incomes well below China’s.
Don’t forget. China has made an open secret of its goal to become the planet’s sole super power and dominate the world stage militarily and economically.
The US Treasury should not subsidize low-interest loans to China that put Americans at a competitive disadvantage and shortchange poor countries that actually need development assistance. Congress needs to take immediate steps to stop the madness.
I’ve introduced two bills that provide short-term and long-term solutions. US tax-payers are the World Bank’s largest contributor. Right now, Congress is hammering out spending bills for 2020. The State-Foreign Operations appropriations bill currently authorizes a big capital increase for the World Bank. I’ve introduced legislation that would require the US representative to the World Bank to work to defeat any project in any country that has reached the “graduation threshold” and for which the State Department has flagged for religious freedom concerns. Using these definitions, my legislation would apply to China and Russia and make it US policy to remove them from eligibility for IBRD loans.
As for a long-term solution, I’ve also introduced a bicameral bill that would put the congressional seal of approval behind the Trump administration’s efforts to graduate China from the World Bank’s lending program reserved for impoverished countries. My two-pronged approach seeks to stick a fork in the World Bank’s misguided approvals of this lending program.
Congress must take action to prevent the exploitation of programs intended to lift developing nations from poverty to productivity and prosperity. Lawmakers hold the purse strings and have a fiscal and moral responsibility to uphold. We can’t turn a blind eye to the World Bank, especially when it comes at tax-payer expense and compromises fundamental American values of individual freedom and religious liberty.