• (中英对照)An aid compact with a hidden agenda 名为援外 实则霸道
  • 2020-03-13
  • Sri Lanka finds Trojan horse in the US MCC aid compact. 斯里兰卡发现,美国MCC公司的援助项目里藏有猫腻。

    Be careful about a free lunch. Sri Lanka was happy at first, but ultimately had to reject a US development compact.


    The $480m deal with Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was supposed to tackle two binding constraints on economic growth.

    这项原计划同美国“千年挑战公司” (千年挑战公司是美国政府全资所有,负责美对外发展援助的专门机构)签署的总额4.8亿美元发展援助协议,声称是为了解决斯经济发展中面临的两个问题。

    MCC claimed the deal would benefit 54% of Sri Lanka’s population as “these investments will reduce severe traffic bottlenecks, create safer, more reliable public transportation, and lower the transport costs required to connect people and goods with booming markets.”


    Then comes the Trojan embedded in the draft: “The MCC and the United States Government or any current or former officer or employee of MCC or the United States Government shall be immune from the jurisdiction of all courts and tribunals of Sri Lanka for any claim or loss arising out of activities or omissions under this Compact.”


    It was a poison pill and it caused a stir.


    Could it mean large-scale privatization of precious farmland  and then lease of it to someone else for other use? What if someone collects sensitive landscape data? And diplomatic immunity for U.S. businesses under the MCC umbrella could enable almost any kind of negative corporate behavior. 


    “Are we going back to colonial times again?” Local media and intellectuals are charging that the MCC is an instrument of a new-type imperialism pursuing economic hegemony over poorer countries. Noted columnist Shenali Waduge earlier wrote “In short the plan is to turn Sri Lanka into another colony, an American military base in the Indian Ocean.”

    “难道我们要重回殖民时代吗?”当地媒体和学术界人士直指千年挑战公司,称它是对穷国实施新殖民主义的工具。知名专栏专家Shenali Waduge写道:“说白了,这个项目就是把斯里兰卡变为殖民地,变成美国在印度洋的军事基地。”

    They have every reason to worry. In Nepal, a similar MCC compact worth 500 million US dollars is still hanging upon parliament for approval. The clauses include “the government waives any and all claims against MCC or the United States Government ... for all loss, damage, injury, or death arising out of activities or omissions under this Compact, and agrees that it shall not bring any claim or legal proceeding of any kind against any of the above entities or persons for any such loss, damage, injury, or death.”


    Sounds familiar? Seems like a standard clause for every MCC compact.


    In Madagascar, MCC-funded land reforms resulted in 1.3 million hectares of farmland being leased free of charge to a foreign private company for 99 years for export agriculture, as clauses and provisions in MCC’s compact shall not be subject to Madagascar laws.  In other words, national sovereignty, security and policies have been sold out.


    The MCC is applauded by some as a better alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). But ironically, from 2013 till now, over 200 countries, regions and international organizations have signed BRI deals with China without a single clause asking for any kind of immunity for any Chinese companies. All Chinese staff and activities must strictly abide by local laws. No hidden agenda. No neo-colonialism.


    The MCC compact intends to do exactly what China is alleged to be doing but has never even attempted.


    By Ge Anna


    Note: Ge Anna is a staff reporter at China Plus. The article reflects the author's views. 

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