Hank Paulson: Openness and Transparency Will Increase Belt and Road Initiative’s International Influence

Speaking at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, Henry M. Paulson, Jr., chairman of the Paulson Institute and former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, said China’s development initiative is part of a historic regional trend toward connectivity. He urged China to conduct development projects with advanced construction and environmental standards and a high degree of transparency.

“China’s One Belt One Road initiative fits into a broader series of connectivity initiatives that have, over the past 25 years, begun to change the face of Asia,” Paulson said in a speech delivered at the afternoon Think Tank Exchanges session. “Whenever an initiative is proposed and developed by one country, it invites close scrutiny by outsiders not just of intentions but, ultimately, of projects and procurement rules. I think China should welcome that scrutiny. After all, it offers an opportunity for China to design best-in-class projects with the highest standards for construction, environmental planning, and financial transparency, thus showcasing whether and how China has arrived as a global player.”

Paulson added that if China pursues transparent policies and high standards in such regional infrastructure projects, then global companies, including American, are likely to find opportunities and embrace the initiative, too.

“The more China can demonstrate that the Belt and Road initiative is open to outside participation in this way, the more it will be embraced by global (and even American) firms and suppliers. Conversely, the more the Belt and Road evolves as an exclusively Chinese initiative, built around Chinese firms alone, the fewer opportunities there will be for Americans and others, and the more that we are likely to hear from skeptics and critical voices,” Paulson said.

Read Paulson’s full remarks.

About the Paulson Institute
The Paulson Institute is a non-partisan, non-profit “think and do” tank grounded in the principle that today’s most pressing economic and environmental challenges can be solved only if the United States and China work in complementary ways. Our mission is to strengthen U.S.-China relations and to advance sustainable economic growth and environmental protection in both countries. Founded in 2011 by Henry M. Paulson, Jr., the 74th Secretary of the Treasury and former Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs, the Institute is based in Chicago and has offices in Washington, San Francisco, and Beijing.