June 05, 2018

Belt and Road woes

The course of the Belt and Road, China’s “project of the century,” is not running smooth. Today’s problems include:

Nepal’s finance minister said his country’s deal with a state-owned Chinese firm to build a massive dam with a price tag of $1.8 billion “would be cancelled and Nepal would fund the project itself,” according to the South China Morning Post, which calls the move “the latest blow” to the Belt and Road.

Malaysia’s finance minister today “announced plans to report to the anti-graft agency upfront payments of billions of ringgit the previous administration made to a Chinese firm for two pipeline projects that have barely begun,” reports the SCMP.

Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia from 1981 to 2003 and reelected earlier this month, is likely to scrutinize Chinese projects more closely than his predecessor: “Mahathir sees China as increasingly more of a geopolitical threat than an economic opportunity,” according to Manila-based scholar Richard Javad Heydarian in an essay titled What Mahathir’s return means for China and the region.

In Myanmar, a planned $10 billion deep-water port to be built by China at Kyaukpyu was announced in 2007. Asia Times says that Myanmar “became sensitive about being indebted to China,” and that recent reports “suggest that the project is now under government review.”

—Jeremy Goldkorn

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