A recent U.S. Senate panel reminded everyone that China is still designated a developing country by Washington. Yet, worldwide, it has been recognized as rather the opposite.

On September 21, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed an amendment to the ratification of updates to the Kigali Treaty of the Montreal Protocol, giving the State Department a deadline of November 6 to stop calling China a developing country and give it another designation. The U.N. and other intergovernmental organizations should also stop treating it as such.

To put China in the same category with other third world nations is a misnomer. As Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan pointed out in a statement, “China is not a developing country. It is the second largest economy in the world. It is one of the most industrialized countries in the world. It has one of the biggest militaries in the world. The World Bank now even considers China to be an ‘upper middle income’ country.”

According to VOA News, China’s per capita GDP in 2021 was $12,556, but the World Bank’s criteria for high-income economies is $12,695. This means that China is very close to becoming a high-income economy.

Internationally, China is also making itself the largest creditor globally through its Belt and Road Initiative. 

The Wall Street Journal estimated from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the country has granted nearly $1 trillion in loans and other funds to developing projects in almost 150 countries worldwide. This occurred in just 10 years. By comparison, the U.S. and government-linked agencies provided less than half of that amount to less-developed nations.

Last November, Washington-based think tank the Center for Global Development reported that China has harvested unique influence by offering about $200 billion in subsidized loans to poor countries per year.

Claude Barfield, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told VOA that China is putting itself in the same position as international institutions like the World Bank through Belt and Road infrastructure programs.

Still, the country has also been receiving loans and other aid from the World Bank and U.N. agencies, as a low-income economy. 

VOA News noted that in 1999, China received a total of $9.95 billion in concessional loans from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which lends money to low-income nations.

After it was designated as a middle-income nation, China shifted to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) of the World Bank as its primary lender. From 1999 to 2011, it was granted a total of $39.8 billion in loans. As of December 2019, the World Bank has had 97 projects totaling $12 billion in pledged investment under construction in China.

About China continuing to be categorized as a developing nation, Sullivan said, “What China keeps trying to do in international organizations and in international treaties is continue to get the same benefits as truly developing countries.” 

He noted that the Kigali Treaty gives developing nations much more time to implement the treaty as well as funding from the U.N. to implement it. However, it was the U.S. that gave the U.N. money to help implement the treaty. Sullivan said most of that money was going to China.

He asked, “Does anyone in the U.S. Senate think that makes sense? Does anyone in America think that makes sense? It does not.” 

The U.S. amendment will now be presented to the U.N. ahead of the November conference for the next Montreal Protocol meeting.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.