In 2013 the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping announced a grand economic and infrastructure project, now known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It was aimed to benefit the world economically by connecting consumers to markets and helping improve the movement of goods and services. It is no surprise that Xi called the BRI the “project of the century.” After those announcements, around 70 countries were to become part of this initiative.
The total funding of the project is still not clear and there are estimates that it could be anywhere from around US$1 trillion to $8 trillion. After its announcement, a large number of countries showed great excitement about being part of the initiative, expecting development for their economies. China has announced a number of infrastructure projects under the BRI banner and a great amount of money has been invested. However, the situation now is quite different from when the plan was announced.
The most recent aspect under debate is with regard to the increasing “debt trap.” A large number of smaller countries in South Asia, Africa, Southeast Asia and Central Asia had welcomed the Chinese investments promised under the BRI with the hope of developing their domestic economies and capabilities. The Chinese investments in the proposed infrastructure of the concerned countries were welcome as they would provide them with a base to develop their domestic markets and also in the movement of goods and services.
But in the past several months, the number of countries expressing concern with regard to how Chinese investments under the BRI are adding to the debt of smaller partners has been on the rise. What is worrying these countries is that China will use the inability of the host countries to pay back the debt as an excuse to gain increased control of major strategic and economic posts. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has even expressed concerns over new form of colonialism.
The first most prominent apparent victim of consistent Chinese investment into infrastructure projects has been Sri Lanka. Last December, Colombo was forced to lease out its Hambantota Port and land around the port to a Chinese shipping company for 99 years. And last month, Malaysia announced that it would not be going ahead with three major Chinese projects costing around $20 billion.
Similar voices of concern are being expressed in other countries as well, most prominently Pakistan, China’s all-weather friend. China has also started to feel the pressure from delays in projected plans in Indonesia, Laos, Kazakhstan and Bangladesh. These instances have made it clear that there is a need for greater transparency vis-à-vis the Chinese investments under the overall BRI project.
It is not only the economic burden that is a concern for the partner countries, but the added presence of the Chinese military. There is a growing apprehension that with the BRI there will be an increase in Chinese military presence supporting and safeguarding the economic investments. The last two Chinese defense white papers have been quite open about the extended use of Chinese military personnel to protect economic concerns overseas.
The increasing attacks on Chinese engineers and workers in Pakistan for projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) are a major example as well as a cause of concern for Beijing. One cannot ignore the fact that China will be keen to protect its overseas investments, and thus it was no surprise that the Chinese government decided to adopt its first military base at Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. According to the latest reports, China is also involved in the construction of a military base in Badakhshan province in Afghanistan. This coupled with Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar on the southwest coast of Balochistan, Pakistan, will provide China with a very strong military presence in South Asia as well.
The BRI was perceived by some as an alternative to the development model promoted by the West. However, the teething problems the BRI faces have raised a number of questions about it actually serving as an alternative and also being functional. The major drawback for the BRI is the idea of “China’s rise” that follows it.
China has been flexing its muscles for power and influence in the global order and has become a major security concern for the countries in its neighborhood. In addition, most of the countries trading with China have been facing trade deficits, with no solution in sight. When these concerns are coupled with the huge amount of money the Chinese want to invest in smaller countries, their sovereignty concerns get magnified. Existing territorial and border disputes further complicate the situation. It is because of these that China faces a major trust deficit, which will be a major hurdle against the success of the BRI.
In addition to this, the Chinese economic slowdown has forced Beijing government to rethink the pace of investment. Thus it is no surprise that though India was the most vocal critic of the BRI, Beijing has renewed its efforts to woo New Delhi. Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Jun said in a statement recently, “Historically, India was an important country on the ancient Silk Road and it is fair to say that India was a natural partner in the ancient [Silk Road] and [is one] in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
China thinks that getting India on board may ease some of the major concerns and help the future functioning of the BRI. India is generally regarded as a benign country with a stronger soft-power appeal when compared with China. Given the current global financial concerns, China will be happy to have India on board, maybe as a partner, given the potential for the Indian economy.
The BRI countries some already stroked and many nation will get lethal stroke easier for
When both China and Pakistan are not sweating, why is India going hyper?
Jews who control the West, and Hindus, only think of money. But the eternal question of existence is Survival, Growth, and Evolution.
The BRI/New Silk Road is NOT about money, but in the words of his initiater, about World Peace and Dialogue of Civilizations through trade routes.
Peace is essential for human progress, and trade UNCONDITIONALLY leads to peace.
For 800 years Muslims who ruled India tried to civilize them but failed. Then the Christians did the same for 200, and failed too.
India will never be civilized till it rids itself of inhuman race-based Caste System where darkies are lower and whites are upper, and stops public defecation like animals.
When India becomes civilized then she can participate in the Dialogue of Civilizations. Till then, stand aside and whine as the world whizzes past by, and enjoy the unproductive same-sex unions that the Supreme Court has blessed, and walk into oblivion committing suicide. No children, no future.
Syed: you say," For 800 years Muslims who ruled India tried to civilize them but failed…" Where did you read this voodoo history ? How come Muslims on a global scale have been on their asses all these days for the past millenium! If you are addicted to Quran, Hadiths and the remaining B.S., you will never get up and will be in the gutter forever!
BRI project is important for China, for there is a very big market for Chinese goods and not in smaller countries, like Pakistan with begging bowls!
It has always being a flexible undertaking with individual countries assessing and continously reassessing their needs and requirement to participate in the OBOR. Nothing surprising if some projects are cancelled, rerouted, or deferred due to financial and political problems in the host countries. In the recently concluded China-Africa Forum (FOCAC) Africa testified that it has benefited greatly from China efforts especially in countries that participated in the OBOR. There you are. Solid evidence of the progress made. Not some heresay information form the western press.
The trading caravan is going along bringing riches and exchange goods, culture, ideas all along just like the days of ancient silk road. No one is being forced to join or kid knapped to go along. People in nortern China like fruits and things from the south, while southerners like northern meat, etc. Italians love truffles Chinese feed to pigs, while Chinese crazy for Italian hand made bags. Anyone who says they don’t have something to trade with China or other people is just a stupid pessimist who haven’t see the world beyond his own cave.
Get back to your cave hole country, troll.
Can’t you even be more creative when writing comments? 🙂
It’s that the best comment you can come up with?
Any braindead zombie incapable of seeing the reality and is not happy over my comments is not welcome and I
won’t even wasting my precious time to reply on your comments 🙂
As an added bonus, I’ve permanently blocked you account. Out of my sight, out of my mind 🙂
LoL, indian elites are welcome to keep barking like a losing dog and yet the reality is that indian public voted with their wallet and keep buying Chinese products.
U must joking when you wrote the laughable comment that Muslims ruled India for 800 years – NOT SO! Where did u learn your history, from the Madrasahs of Pakistan?
Muslims could only rule those parts it had some control (not all of India), and that too under alliances with Hindu kings. It wasn’t till the 16th century, did the Mughals were able to administer parts of India that it controlled, again in alliance with Hindu kings and leaders. The Rajputs fought Muslim kings to a standstill, which is why they had to make alliances with Hindu rulers. Most of the South were not under control of the Muslims.
The Marathas, followed by the Sikhs, and the Dogras then defeated the Moghuls armies from the 17th century onwards, taking most of N India to Kashmir and to the Eastern borders of Afghanistan. The Brits only took control from the mid-19th century onwards.
The Muslim rulers left nothing of note in India, save a few Mosques BUT NO UNIVERSITIES, since they were themselves foul and uncivilised. It’s idiotic to suggest that Muslims had anything civilised to offer. They had NONE. They only bequeathed a vile religion like Islam, founded by an Arab with an outsized ego, that was unoriginal, full of errors, inconsistencies, and borrowed heavily from Jewish and Christian FABLES!
Here are some facts about India which you need to digest and educate yourself on:
India was one of the great ancient civilsations of the past 6 millenia…giving the world knowledge in fields as varied as Mathematics, Medicine, astronomy, spiritual science, etc
Maybe u haven’t noticed, but India is a federal state with 30 states that are self-governing with multiple ethnic groups and languages…that has had experience in unity in diversity. Unlike Pakistan, which broke up in 1971, with the East Wing becoming Bangladesh – despite the same religion! So, Pakistan has nothing to teach India on that front.
Moreover, u think that India’s caste system make it divisive – if that was so, then India would broken up into many states long ago. I despise the caste system, but it hasn’t blocked India’s progress, since democracy has proved to be a levelling force that allows low castes as well high castes to vote whoever into power…and low castes have won power in several states. And, PM Modi is from a low caste…who won the highest office in India!
It’s laughable that u think India is a laggard – hello ignoramus, here are some FACTS that will make you burn with jealousy:
1. India is now the fastest growing economy in the world! It was the second-fastest growing economy for the past 25 years, trailing China only.
2. India got 1/15th of what China was getting in FDI and utilized those funds more efficiently.
3. India has the 2nd highest number of billionaires in Asia.
4. India has an economy that has a range and depth in all areas of commerce – see the various Indian indices for more info.
5. India’s major trade partners are the USA, China, the EU, Japan…to name a few!
6. India gets 75% of all the IT contracts from world’s biggest IT market – the USA!
7. India is one of 6 major space powers and has sent rockets and satellites into Earth and Geo-Staionary orbits for the past 30 years. It designs its own rockets and cryogenic engines and satellites (both civilian and military)…and is the only country among the 6 who has sent a probe to MARS the first time successfully!
8. India is the only country that has produced Thorium-based fast-breeder Nuclear reactors that produces more energy than what was put in…and they are coming online in the future.
I could cite more…but u get the picture….
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