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China’s Road Diplomacy: Transforming South Asia’s Infrastructure Landscape

China’s Road Diplomacy: Transforming South Asia’s Infrastructure Landscape

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has led to the construction of strategic roads connecting China to ports in South Asia, but these projects have faced challenges and raised concerns about environmental and security issues, as well as debt burdens on recipient countries.

The article highlights the Karakoram Highway, the highest paved road in the world, which connects China to Gwadar port in Pakistan. This road is part of the BRI and was intended to facilitate trade and travel between the two countries. However, progress has been slow, and Gwadar port remains empty, raising questions about the effectiveness of the project.

Corruption, delays, and environmental concerns have plagued many BRI projects, including the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which aimed to build a network of roads, railways, and pipelines in Pakistan. Pakistan’s economic problems, including high inflation and weak currency, have further complicated the implementation of these projects.

China’s investment through the BRI has made it the largest creditor and a crucial source of investment for many developing countries. However, concerns have been raised about China’s influence and interference in political affairs, as well as the conversion of infrastructure investments into long-term leases that impinge on sovereignty.

Neighboring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh initially saw the BRI as an opportunity to attract investments and modernize their economies. However, they are now facing challenges and questioning the long-term benefits of these projects.

Overall, while the BRI has the potential to develop infrastructure and boost economies, it also raises concerns about debt sustainability, environmental impact, and China’s geopolitical ambitions. As China’s influence in South Asia grows, it is important to carefully assess the costs and benefits of these projects and ensure they are sustainable and beneficial for all parties involved.

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