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The new Silk Road: China's campaign to dominate the global economy (Irish Examiner)

February 8, 2019

From the article:

In the barely-inhabited steppes of Central Asia, China is establishing the centre of its campaign to dominate the global economy, writes Ben Mauk

The Eurasian Pole of Inaccessibility is the point farthest from a sea or ocean on the planet.

Located in China just east of the border with Kazakhstan, the pole gets you at least 2,500km from the nearest coastline into an expanse of white steppe and blue-beige mountain that is among the least populated places on earth.

Here, among some of the last surviving pastoral nomads in Central Asia, the largest infrastructure project in the history of the world is growing.

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Critics have described the BRI as a new kind of colonialism or even part of a strategy of “debt-trap diplomacy,” seducing cash-poor countries with infrastructure projects that are unlikely to generate enough revenue to cover the interest on the loans that funded them.

That is the unhappy situation at the China-funded port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, which the China Harbour Engineering Company took over after Sri Lanka fell behind on debt service.

The Center for Global Development lists eight countries that face high risk of “debt distress” from BRI projects that they can’t afford. Some experts view the camps and other security measures in Xinjiang as partly a reaction to the increased freight traffic now moving across the region.

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Photo of Scott Morris
Senior Fellow, Director of the US Development Policy Initiative