China decided to take a page out of the US’s foreign policy playbook by instituting some “dollar diplomacy” of its own.
Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that China will be using money to build its influence with its neighbors in Southeast Asia, specifically, the five countries along the Mekong River.
Speaking at a summit in the southern Chinese resort town of Sanya on Hainan island, Li offered $11.5 billion in loans and credit lines to Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam for infrastructure and other projects, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website and the official Xinhua news agency.
This follows the $20 billion in loans Li offered to Southeast Asia, while visiting Myanmar to attend an East Asian summit.
The new offer includes 10 billion yuan ($1.1 billion) in preferential loans and a $10 billion credit line, to fund the roads, ports and railways needed for growth.
He did not give a time frame for when the funds may be dispersed.
Li added that he would push China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and its Silk Road fund to also fund projects in the region, and ensure a greater use for China’s yuan currency in dealings with the five countries.
“There are six countries on one river. The Lancang-Mekong sub-region is our joint home,” Li said, referring to the Chinese name for the upper part of the river, which runs through China. “Over the many years of being neighbors we have become family.”