February 2023 \ World News \ INTERNATIONAL NEWS
China’s ‘New Silk Road’ stokes opposition

The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive China-led infrastructure project that aims to stretch around the globe.

By Sanjeev Sharma

Some projects have also been called mismatches for a country’s infrastructure needs or damaging to the environment, Wall Street Journal reported.

Now, low-quality construction on some of the projects risks crippling key infrastructure and saddling nations with even more costs for years to come as they try to remedy problems.

“We are suffering today because of the bad quality of equipment and parts” in Chinese-built projects, said René Ortiz, Ecuador’s former energy minister and ex-secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Built near a spewing volcano, it was the biggest infrastructure project ever in this country, a concrete colossus bankrolled by Chinese cash and so important to Beijing that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, spoke at the 2016 inauguration. Today, thousands of cracks have emerged in the $2.7 billion Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, government engineers said, raising concerns that Ecuador’s biggest source of power could break down. At the same time, the Coca River’s mountainous slopes are eroding, threatening to damage the dam, Wall Street Journal reported.

It is one of many Chinese-financed projects around the world plagued with construction flaws. Chinese money has been used to build everything from a port in Pakistan to roads in Ethiopia and a transmission line in Brazil.

Chinese construction companies often bid for government projects or directly approach local officials with projects with a promise that they can easily arrange financing packages from Chinese banks and insurers, Wall Street Journal reported.

That, developing-country officials say, has given Chinese companies a leg up, because it means governments eager to build a new dam or road don’t have to drum up their own funding. In Africa, more than 60 per cent of the revenue major international contractors collected in 2019 went to Chinese companies, according to a 2021 paper by the China-Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University.

Tags: China