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SHOULD THE USA STOP BEING THE WORLD'S SUGARDADDY? A Commonsense Approach: U.S. Debt Diplomacy to Counter China’s Influence

The competition between the United States and China for global influence has reached critical dimensions, encompassing economic, military, and cultural arenas. One of the most significant aspects of this competition is China's strategic use of debt diplomacy, particularly through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

List of the trade routes that it wants to complete it's international web

Through extensive loans to developing countries for infrastructure projects, China has secured considerable geopolitical leverage. This paper argues from a conservative perspective that the United States should commence the process of paying off the debts of these countries to China and reschedule the debt payments to the United States. Importantly, this approach advocates for a 'no strings attached' policy that refrains from enforcing social or cultural mores upon the recipient countries. This strategy offers a pragmatic, commonsense approach to counter China’s growing influence while promoting American values of freedom and sovereignty.

The Geopolitical Challenge

1. Sovereignty at RiskChina's debt diplomacy often places recipient countries in precarious positions. With hefty repayment obligations and onerous terms, some nations face significant risks, including the potential forfeiture of strategic assets. The Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka and similar cases highlight the dangerous precedence of sovereignty compromises. When countries default on their debts, they may be forced to cede control over key infrastructures to Beijing, thus extending China's geopolitical reach.

2. Geopolitical LeverageChina's financial entanglements grant it substantial leverage over debtor nations, influencing their foreign policy decisions and aligning them with Beijing's agenda. The U.S. must counteract this trend to maintain its strategic advantage and uphold a global order based on democratic values and free-market principles.

The Case for U.S. Debt Diplomacy

1. Strategic Investment in StabilityPaying off the debts of these countries to China and restructuring them under U.S. terms serves as a strategic investment in global stability. Financial independence from China will enable these nations to pursue policies that align with their national interests rather than being coerced by external pressures.

2. Strengthening AlliancesBy offering financial assistance without conditional strings attached to cultural or social mores, the United States can foster stronger, more genuine alliances. Rather than imposing American values, this approach respects the sovereignty and unique cultural identities of these nations, encouraging mutual respect and cooperative engagement.

Sound financial policy is the way to strengthen our alliances

Implementing a Conservative Strategy

1. Debt Restructuring and Fair TermsU.S. financial assistance should come in the form of debt buyouts and restructuring agreements characterized by fair interest rates and flexible terms that promote sustainable development. This policy must emphasize long-term economic growth and stability for the recipient nations.

2. Promoting Good GovernanceWhile the policy should avoid enforcing American cultural norms, it must still advocate for good governance practices. Encouraging transparency, anti-corruption measures, and responsible fiscal management ensures that the financial aid is effectively utilized and benefits the populace.

3. Shared Economic GrowthEstablishing mutually beneficial economic relationships, including trade and investment opportunities, will help integrate these nations into the global economy. By fostering economic interdependence, the United States can promote prosperity that is resilient to Chinese influence.

Addressing Potential Criticisms

1. Erosion of American ValuesCritics may argue that not imposing social or cultural mores undermines American values. However, advocating for national sovereignty and respecting cultural diversity are core American principles. Empowering nations to govern themselves without external social imposition ultimately reinforces the value of freedom.

2. Fiscal ResponsibilityWhile debt buyouts represent a significant financial commitment, the long-term benefits of stabilizing key regions and counterbalancing China’s influence justify the investment. A well-structured debt diplomacy initiative, supported by bipartisan consensus, ensures fiscal responsibility and strategic efficacy.

3. Historical Context and PrecedentsHistorically, American foreign aid has often been linked to conditions that align with U.S. interests. However, adapting to contemporary global dynamics requires flexible strategies that prioritize long-term geopolitical stability over short-term ideological gains.


The United States stands at a pivotal juncture in its global leadership role. Adopting a strategy of paying off China’s debts and rescheduling debt payments with a 'no strings attached' approach represents a pragmatic, conservative solution to countering China’s expanding influence. By respecting the sovereignty of debtor nations and fostering genuine economic partnerships, the U.S. can cultivate lasting alliances, promote global stability, and reinforce its position as a champion of freedom and self-determination. This commonsense policy embraces the principles of fiscal responsibility, strategic investment, and respect for cultural diversity, offering a viable path forward in the face of a dynamic and challenging geopolitical landscape.


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a significant global development strategy adopted by China to enhance regional connectivity and investment. While the specific monetary amounts owed can be dynamic and vary over time, the following list includes 20 countries that are considered strategic to the Belt and Road Initiative due to their geographic location, economic potential, or political alignments. This does not necessarily reflect the amount of debt:

  1. Pakistan

  2. Sri Lanka

  3. Malaysia

  4. Indonesia

  5. Kazakhstan

  6. Nigeria

  7. Kenya

  8. Angola

  9. Ethiopia

  10. Egypt

  11. Russia

  12. Myanmar

  13. Laos

  14. Bangladesh

  15. Vietnam

  16. Thailand

  17. Philippines

  18. Zambia

  19. Venezuela

  20. Maldives

These countries are strategically important to China due to their locations on key trade routes, their natural resources, or their roles as regional economic hubs. The exact debt figures can be checked from sources like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), or various financial transparency reports for the most current information.


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