Former State Department official Joel Rubin warned in a recent interview that developing countries that have accepted loans from China could face crippling debt which could have implications for US national security.
As part of its Belt and Road Initiative, China provides loans to developing nations that include secretive and unforgiving terms that could cripple the countries.
In an interview with Fox News Digital this week, Rubin said China targets developing countries that are of “strategic importance” to its Navy.
Rubin, who served as deputy assistant secretary of state under the Obama administration, told Fox that Beijing’s strategy is to expand its global influence by coercing countries and cutting deals.
There has been growing concern over the economic impact Chinese loans have on developing countries, especially in regions where Beijing has leveraged its position to gain control of natural resources and ports.
In mid-May, Fortune reported that developing countries, including Kenya, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, and Zambia, are being pushed to the brink of collapse due to the money they owe China.
Analysts have referred to the situation as a Chinese debt trap, with some suggesting that the loans are designed to make repayment impossible, thereby forcing the countries to cede strategic interests to China once they fail to make good on their debts.
According to a recent report from Reuters, Chinese hackers have been operating a years-long campaign of cyberattacks targeting key ministries and institutions in Kenya, aimed in part at acquiring information on the debt the Kenyan government owes to China.
Kenya’s finances, like several other African nations, are currently under strain due to the growing cost of servicing its external debt, most of which is owed to China.
Sources told Reuters that the ongoing hacking campaign indicates that Beijing is willing to leverage its espionage capabilities to protect its strategic and economic interests abroad.