How Asia Fell Out of Love With China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Bloomberg.com

Countries are discovering that the promise of Xi Jinping’s signature infrastructure program is too good to be true.

In late August, President Abdulla Yameen of the Maldives hailed the opening of a Chinese-built bridge connecting two islands in the archipelago as “the gateway into tomorrow and the opportunities beyond.”

One month later, Yameen was voted out and the new government of the palm-fringed nation off the coast of India began to uncover the mountain of debt with which he’d saddled the country. A pro-China strongman who jailed opponents and judges, Yameen borrowed heavily from Beijing to build a new runway for the main airport, housing developments and a hospital, as well as the 2.1 kilometer (1.3 mile)-long “China-Maldives Friendship Bridge.”

On a recent trip to New Delhi, Maldives officials opened up about their frustration over the scale of the debt to China—the equivalent of almost  20 percent of GDP—and the inexplicable preference given to Chinese financing under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In just one example, the previous government rejected a $54 million hospital bid in favor of an “inflated” Chinese offer of $140 million. Continue reading “How Asia Fell Out of Love With China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Advertisements

China plans super-grid for clean power in Asia

Financial times

As hydropower hits problems, China plans renewable energy for region

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s ambitious outbound investment strategy which links at least 65 countries along terrestrial and maritime trade corridors, will open massive new opportunities for trade and investment in frontier markets. Energy infrastructure investments are a backbone of BRI, so aligning these investments with sustainable development goals is necessary for China to navigate regional patchworks of social, environmental and economic priorities. Continue reading “China plans super-grid for clean power in Asia”

China’s high-speed train plans in Southeast Asia stumble

Disagreements over costs and land procurement are adding years to schedules

asia.nikkei.com

YUKAKO ONO, Nikkei staff writer

Officials attend the groundbreaking ceremony of the rail project linking Bangkok and Nakhon Ratchasima, on Dec. 21 in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand. (Photo by Yukako Ono).

NAKHON RATCHASIMA, Thailand Exports of high-speed railway systems by China to Southeast Asian nations are lagging behind schedule due to problems over cost sharing and delays in land procurement.

A China-led project in Thailand is finally about to get underway, two years after a groundbreaking ceremony for a part of the route. But the outlook for connecting the line with China’s planned pan-Asian railway network is still dim.

The situation is a matter of concern to China as high-speed railway exports represent a core of the Belt and Road Initiative to reinforce its relations with neighboring countries through infrastructure projects.

The Thai government on Dec. 21 held a groundbreaking ceremony for a 250km, 179 billion baht ($5.46 billion) high-speed rail project linking Bangkok and the northeastern Thai province of Nakhon Ratchasima. Continue reading “China’s high-speed train plans in Southeast Asia stumble”

Global Infrastructure Development

  • A Strategic Approach to U.S. Leadership
    Global Infrastructure Development
    Contributor: Charles F. Rice
    Mar 28, 2016

    China’s recent global infrastructure development initiatives serve to place it at the center of Asian regional and worldwide economic activity, while also meeting a critical need in the developing world. In marked contrast, the United States lacks a strategic approach to supporting global infrastructure investment. While the U.S. government does have the instruments in place to increase support for infrastructure investment, there is little coordination among relevant agencies, including the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Trade and Development Agency, and the Export-Import Bank. This report examines how the United States has approached infrastructure development in the past and how it is approaching it today with an eye toward practical recommendations to improve the United States’ ability to support infrastructure investment.

     

    Publisher CSIS

President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” Initiative

  • A Practical Assessment of the Chinese Communist Party’s Roadmap for China’s Global Resurgence
    President Xi Jinping’s "Belt and Road" Initiative
    Mar 28, 2016

    President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road” Initiative highlights the influences shaping the genesis of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, examines the balance China is seeking to strike between geostrategic ambitions and practical economic aims, and explores the mechanisms the Xi administration is establishing to manage its implementation. The report concludes by assessing potential pitfalls and making the call for an innovative U.S. approach to global infrastructure development.

     

    Publisher CSIS