In the wake of the increasing debt burden on its economy, Pakistan has cut the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project by $2 billion in their land. Pakistan’s Railway Minister Sheikh Rasheed cited the country’s current debt levels as the foremost reason for the cut.
Islamabad is an integral part of the Chinese revamping of the colonial rail line. The $8.2 billion project is part of the bigger Belt and Road Initiative, stretching 1,872 km from Karachi to the city of Peshawar in the northwest. After the cut, the loan from China under CPEC for rail projects has dwindled to $6.2 billion. The CPEC that Pakistan loves to project as a ticket to economic growth and prosperity in their terror-infested land has long been predicted as potential debt trap for the country.
This is a fresh backlash for China, after its current trade war with the United States. US President Trump has accused China of maintaining an unjust wide made deficit with countries. To counter it, Trump administration has imposed $250 billion tariffs on Chinese imports.
The US and other economic watchdogs have also warned countries getting involved with China’s BRI, as being a China’s aim of spreading its neo-colonial tentacles.
Sri Lanka had to hand-over its strategic port of Hambantota on a 99-year lease to China after it found it difficult to repay loans taken under the former PM Rajapaksa. This also raised concerns for India, as Hambantota can be used by China to eye Southern Parts of our country.
A similar fate was witnessed by Greece after it handed one of their busiest Port Piraeus to China.
The European Union is also worried about China’s expansionist and ulterior motives after China made it mandatory for European companies to transfer its technology ideas to China if they desired to invest in the land. EU also had reprimanded Greece, for misusing its forum to raise pro-Chinese rants.
Pakistan is succeeding Maldives and countries like Zambia, who have now realized the dangerous game of debts played by China. The Malaysian President had caused huge embarrassment to China after the declaration of cancelling $22 billion Chinese gas pipelines project and also warned against militarisation of South China Sea by China.
India was the first and one of the only countries to openly reject the Belt and Road Initiative of China.