Don't hide behind China!
Before the Washington meeting, this “ask China” pretext had already been heard in our visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. We were there to seek support from the Dutch government on integration of Human Rights Impact Assessment into the Safeguards. “Well, I guess the biggest reluctance will come from China”, an official finished our conversation, with a meaningful smile on his face towards me.
I don’t understand the logic in this. So what? You don’t have to be a good guy because somebody else is already worse? Yesterday you blamed this worse guy for doing bad, today you hide behind him and giggle? If that is what we call global politics, it makes me sad.
Unfortunately, it seems that I have no choice but be sad.
The Dutch are not the only ones using strange logic. So does the World Bank. When showed that China is trying to strengthen, at least on paper, the regulation on its widely-condemned overseas investments, bank officers seemed to say, “See, the system of the borrowing countries is getting better, we should use theirs!”
There is nothing wrong with the Bank helping borrowing countries improve their regulations, but this does not mean the Bank can shifts its own obligations and responsibilities off to the country system. Your money, your obligation to keep it from doing harm. You may hide behind others, but only as long as you convince the impacted. Sadly, the Bank doesn’t convince us. In contrast, stories we heard all the days in Washington from the impacted groups from Columbia, India, Indonesia, and Cambodia were much more convincing and touching.
In our CSO session on the upward harmonization of the Safeguards, a Bank officer corrected us and assured us that the Bank is 'not lowering its safeguard standards'. Such a relief, but please show us...
More information on what Yu Chen and other partners of Both ENDS were doing in Washington
Report on green credit footprint of Chinese banks
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The European Investment Bank EIB should get rid of its gas-investments, and the Netherlands can take the lead in this. The Netherlands appears to be relying less and less on gas in its energy policy, and also seems to focus on gas-free investments at the EIB. Now it is important to maintain this position and also convince the other EU countries.