China's BRI going south?

ANI | Updated: Dec 06, 2017 07:05 IST

New York [U.S.], December 06 (ANI): China sees 'Belt Road Initiative' (BRI), an infrastructure push linking Asia, Africa and Europe for trade, as its ticket to eclipse the United States and become the world's foremost superpower. However, the so called 'road' is not shaping up the way the Asian giant would have wanted it to be, noted an expert on Asian affairs.

Ilaria Maria Sala, in her article in the Quartz portal, wrote that China is facing a lot of obstacles one after the other in the BRI, which passes from some of the less stable and debt-ridden countries.

To drive the point home, Sala has highlighted cases of Pakistan and Nepal, which have recently asked China to stop work on a development project in their respective countries.

In Pakistan, China was involved in building the Diamer-Basha dam on the Indus River. However, the $14 billion project went south in November after the China's 'all-weather friend', Pakistan, complained that it was "not doable and against our interest".

The dam, which was part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (a section of BRI) is now being built by Pakistan on its own.

Similarly, Nepal, in November, stopped the $2.5 billion Budhi Gandaki hydropower plant project from being built by China Gezhouba Group. It said the bidding process was rigged to favour the group.

The author has implied that China has been taking advantage of the vulnerabilities plaguing these countries and striking the deal in its favour.

To further buttress the point, she cited the examples of two other South Asian countries Sri Lanka and Myanmar, whose economies have taken a hit due to internal strife.

She wrote, "In Sri Lanka, the Hambantota port is now on a 99-year lease to China Merchants Port Holdings, which has a 70% stake in the venture. In 2015, Sri Lanka sought a review of how construction of the port had been awarded and halted its development.

"But in the face of economic and financing difficulties, it backtracked. With some $8 billion owed to China, thanks to loans taken to rebuild after its civil war, Colombo agreed to convert some of this debt into equity in projects," she wrote further.

Sala further noted that before investing, China does not take into account condition of human rights or other such issues in the prospective country.

When the whole world was criticising Myanmar over Rohingya crisis, globe's second and Asia's biggest economy was discussing a Pakistan-like economic corridor with country's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, Sala wrote in her article.

However, the expert concluded that despite obstacles like these, the red dragon would continue to grow and do its best to turn its plans into realities, so as to move beyond from its current position - the second biggest economy and military power in the world. (ANI)