The social media manager at banking HSBC may have had some regrets last week after they asked Twitter followers for their views on China’s Belt and Road infrastructure project.
“What do you think of when you hear the term Belt and Road,” the official Twitter account posed last Thursday.
What do you think of when you hear the term Belt and Road?
— HSBC (@HSBC) May 16, 2019
The sponsored tweet garnered 39 responses, but almost 100 per cent of them were critical of the mega-plan.
Academic Kevin Carrico posted images of Uighur detainees in Xinjiang, a key logistical corridor for Beijing’s initiative.
— Kevin Carrico (@kevincarrico) May 21, 2019
Other commenters said they thought of “debt trap colonialism,” “China scam,” “Neo-colonialism,” “Shoddily built highways in Uzbekistan” and “total crap.”
“Big multinationals shamelessly shoe-shining the Chinese regime by name-dropping Xi’s ego-trip neo-colonial-ripoff-fantasy buzzword.” pic.twitter.com/oxkUoUReLA
— HK Hemlock (@HKBigLychee) May 21, 2019
One follower posted a GIF of a Simpsons cartoon character cracking a whip, whilst another dubbed China’s plan “the world’s greatest marketing stunt.”
— Hongkongmusings (@hongkongmusings) May 20, 2019
Another follower wrote: “Companies like HSBC wanting to be part of opaque deals, deliberately kept secret from the local populations.”
The Belt and Road Initiative is a hallmark economic strategy proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, seeking to link China to Europe and Africa through a land “belt” and a maritime “Silk Road.”
The replies to this thread are not going the way HSBC might have hoped… https://t.co/LI7ulYsKkR
— Antony Dapiran (@antd) May 21, 2019
Since its announcement in 2013, China has spent billions of dollars developing trade links and building infrastructure in countries across central and southern Asia.
However, critics have called it a “debt trap” and warned it will spread corruption across the region.