Belt and Road Initiative

Belt and Road Initiative

China opens arms to Thailand’s embattled government as protesters rally
Beijing’s foreign minister Wang Yi has offered support and much needed investment to Thailand’s embattled government of Prayuth Chan-ocha, as the kingdom slides deeper into political crisis and struggles to revive a flatlining economy hammered by the coronavirus. Wang, on his last meeting of a whistle-stop tour shoring up alliances in Southeast Asia, on Thursday promised to sell Thailand’s massive Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) infrastructure, tech and trade zone plan to Chinese companies and make the hub a key part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Thailand is desperate for good economic news and is hoping its largest overseas investor – trade between the two is worth nearly $80 billi
What you need to know about China’s record-high debt
China’s overall debt level is set to rise this year to a record as analysts expect China to be borrowing more money in the coming months to rescue its coronavirus-hit economy. But the economic fallout from the pandemic has raised concerns over the state firms and local governments’ ability to pay back those loans to investors, potentially triggering a financial tumble at home which could destabilize other markets around the world.  The South China Morning Post examines China’s debt, who owns it and why it matters. What is the nature of China’s debt?  Broadly speaking, China’s debt can be divided into domestic debt and foreign debt. China’s domestic debt, denominated in yuan, consists of thr
Can US offer Africa an alternative to Chinese loans?
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Africa last week marked a new drive by the Trump administration to counter China’s growing influence on the continent. Last week, he visited Senegal, Angola and Ethiopia, three countries where Beijing has pumped billions of dollars into infrastructure projects, and used the trip to make a thinly veiled attack on China in an effort to promote the US and its companies as a better alternative. But the visit was Pompeo’s first to Africa since becoming secretary of state almost two years ago, and some observers questioned whether it was too little too late to counter Beijing’s much deeper levels of engagement. On Wednesday, in a speech in the Ethiopian
China’s belt and road: What happens after the gold rush
In the late 1990s, Islamabad-based entrepreneur Sheikh Ejaz Asghar heard rumblings from his recently established Chinese contacts in the Pakistani capital.  Beijing was going to finance several major infrastructure projects and its state-owned enterprises (SOEs) would need local service providers, both to help navigate their new operating environment and procure the vast volumes of materials that would be needed. Acting on this timely tip-off, Asghar began visiting China in 2000 to establish relationships with SOEs and manufacturers of materials he would need to import. He also learned Chinese, to facilitate his new-found business relationships and strengthen his hand in negotiations. “It wa
Melting sea ice is opening a new frontier in US-China rivalry
As declining sea ice threatens to disrupt the main habitat for polar bears, the United States and China see a once-in-a-lifetime opening. A decrease in Arctic summer sea ice could turn previously frozen sea lanes into “the 21s century Suez and Panama Canals,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in May 2019. But the possibility of faster and cheaper shipping between Asia and Europe through the Arctic has also pitted the US against a rising China eager to expand its global influence. A year before Pompeo spoke of leveraging the Arctic in his speech in Finland, Beijing announced a policy to include the polar region in its Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious effort to build land and mariti
Can China learn the lessons of a failed dynasty?
Are we finally seeing Pax Sinica 2.0, or is China engaging in a self-fulfilling prophecy that will lead to its doom (again)? Back in 2013, I wrote that China proffered a valid voice that would help maintain and shape the international order in its current form.  My 2015 book China, State Sovereignty and International Legal Order argued that China’s assertions and exercise of sovereignty should not be taken automatically as signs of aggression, or acts beyond the remit of international law, that would threaten world peace.  In turn, international law would moderate and influence China’s state behavior, both within its territory and in its relations with other states. Since then, President Xi
Kenya opens new China-funded rail line
The second section of a China-funded railway connecting Kenya’s capital Nairobi to Naivasha, a town in the Central Rift Valley, opened on October 16, 2019.  Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, while on board the train's maiden journey, used the trip as an opportunity to reject criticism that the infrastructure project is a white elephant.  Critics say the project known as the Standard Gauge Railway will be unable to generate enough revenue from cargo services to cover its cost. 
This beach town is betting its future on Chinese money
Sihanoukville may be more than 2,000 miles away from Beijing, but it feels more like a Chinese city than a sleepy beach town in Cambodia. Everywhere, people can be heard speaking in Mandarin. Chinese restaurants have sprung up on dusty roads where huge construction sites – including for many hotels and more than 80 casinos – now dominate the skyline. This former fishing village in the country’s southwest used to be a favorite of backpackers. Now it is booming, and much of the development is being driven by Chinese money. But while the boom has created opportunities, it has also brought serious problems for Sihanoukville. Authorities say illegal gambling, prostitution and drug trafficking are
Why China sent empty cargo containers by railway to Europe
Widespread waste and fraud associated with China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been revealed after the country’s state railway group admitted that a significant amount of cargo containers shuttling between China and Europe were empty. The admission by the state-run China Railway, the sole operator of the lines, followed an investigation by the Chinese Business Journal, which found that in one extreme case only one of 41 containers on a particular train actually carried goods. The belt and road plan, masterminded by President Xi Jinping, is the central government’s initiative to link economies into a China-centred trading network to grow global trade. This led to many local governments rushi
Is China putting Africa on the debt-trap express?
When Clement Mouamba, prime minister of the Republic of Congo, went to Beijing last year, he had an important task: to find out exactly how much his country owed China.  The struggling, oil-rich central African nation had, until then, not been able to provide a number to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to qualify for a bailout.  The IMF had postponed talks on further loans until Mouamba’s administration could say how much it had to repay to its external creditors, including China – the republic’s single largest bilateral lender – and oil multinationals such as Glencore and Trafigura. The country, which heavily depends on oil revenue, turned to China and oil majors for funding to run th