Road to nowhere:China’s Belt and Road Initiative at tipping point

Pakistan, Sri Lanka debt crises threaten Beijing’s regional influence

By Adnan Aamir, Marwaan Macan-Markar, Shaun Turton and Cissy Zhou – AUGUST 10, 2022

The drive to Pakistan’s port of Gwadar takes seven and a half hours from Karachi via the Makran coastal highway. Much of the 600-km route is deserted, with no restaurants, restrooms or even fuel stations. On a recent journey, around 200 vehicles in total could be counted during the entire drive.

Arriving in the city on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, Chinese and Pakistani flags are ubiquitous, and Chinese-financed construction projects loom, but the city is spookily devoid of economic activity. Near the seafront, broad avenues are curiously empty of vehicles. Inside the city center, the roads are narrow, congested and covered with foul smelling drain water, with few multistory buildings aside from the Chinese-built port compound. 

It is hard to visualize Gwadar as the launch pad of a new global paradigm, but that is what Beijing would have the world believe.

Nine years ago it was plucked out of obscurity —  a backwater in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region — and presented as China’s commercial window onto the Indian Ocean, a hub for regional integration under the Belt and Road Initiative, which was to harness the juggernaut of the Chinese economy to the goal of Asian economic development. 

The BRI is an audacious program of lending, aid and infrastructure contracts totaling over $880 billion, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

The initiative, which includes pledges to 149 countries, aims to promote Chinese-led regional integration — and sow economic dependence on Beijing.

First announced in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as the “Silk Road,” the BRI was fleshed out in April 2015 with the announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), stretching from Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang. The CPEC showcased the China-Pakistan “all-weather friendship” with $46 billion in pledged funds that has since grown to $50 billion. It was to be the backbone of the now renamed Belt and Road Initiative.

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Chiến lược “ngoại giao bẫy nợ” của Trung Quốc

Huỳnh Hoa Chủ Nhật,  28/1/2018, 07:40 

Cảng nước sâu Hambantota ở Ấn Độ Dương. Do không trả được lãi vay của Trung Quốc, Sri Lanka buộc phải nhượng cho Bắc Kinh quyền sử dụng hải cảng này 99 năm. Ảnh: Wikipedia

(TBKTSG) – Gần đây ngày càng có nhiều quốc gia ở Đông Nam Á và Nam Á rơi vào bẫy nợ của Trung Quốc: vì không trả được nợ mà phải nhượng đất nhượng biển, hoặc làm theo những yêu cầu chính trị và ngoại giao của Bắc Kinh. Với đại dự án “Một vành đai, một con đường” (BRI – Bell and Road Initiative) đi qua nhiều nước mà Chủ tịch Trung Quốc Tập Cận Bình đang ra sức quảng bá, dự đoán sẽ có thêm nhiều nước mắc vào chiếc bẫy này.

Câu chuyện Sri Lanka

Tháng 12 năm ngoái, Chính phủ Sri Lanka phải cho một doanh nghiệp nhà nước Trung Quốc thuê hải cảng Hambantota trên bờ Ấn Độ Dương 99 năm để “cấn trừ” bớt khoản nợ mà nước này đã vay để phát triển khu vực hẻo lánh này. Tiếp tục đọc “Chiến lược “ngoại giao bẫy nợ” của Trung Quốc”

Chinese defence minister to visit Sri Lanka, Nepal

BEIJING: Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan left on Sunday for official visits to Sri Lanka and Nepal, the Defence Ministry said, trips that could unnerve neighbouring India.

China is vying to increase its influence in Nepal, which serves as a natural buffer between China and India, challenging India’s long-held position as the dominant outside power in the landlocked nation.

China has also invested heavily in Sri Lanka, funding airports, roads, railways and ports, and including the island nation of 21 million people on its “One Belt, One Road” mission to create a modern-day “Silk Road” across Asia. Tiếp tục đọc “Chinese defence minister to visit Sri Lanka, Nepal”