Expert warns of risks in Pakistan Silk Road projects

April 27, 2015 15:09
Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) shakes hands with his Pakistani counterpart Mamnoon Hussain in Islamabad last Tuesday. Photo: Xinhua

A scholar has warned China of the risks involved in choosing Pakistan as the recipient of the first batch of projects under its One Belt, One Road initiatives, noting that the government of the South Asian nation may not be able to guarantee the safety of the investments.

Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a US$46 billion infrastructure development program known as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor during his state visit to Pakistan last week.

Xi finalized agreements or witnessed the groundbreaking for US$28 billion worth of projects ranging from upgrading the country's railways to building power plants.

But Chen Si, who claims to have advocated the revival of the Silk Road in 2010, warned that China's investments in Pakistan may turn into abandoned projects, Ming Pao Daily reported.

“It’s a mistake to put the first station of the One Belt, One Road investment in Pakistan,” he said.

Chen, a regional representative (Guangzhou) of the India-China Economic and Cultural Council, warned that the Pakistani government may not be able to guarantee the safety of the projects from possible attacks from radical anti-Chinese religious groups.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives seek to re-establish the trade routes that linked China to the outside world more than 2,000 years ago.

The initiatives, which will involve the infusion of massive investments into participating countries, reflect China's ambition to extend its influence to neighboring regions, according to analysts.

Chen said when he initiated the Silk Road Belt idea in 2010, he insisted that it must follow market-oriented principles, which are slow but reliable.

He said private enterprises should take the lead role in the construction of projects under the One Belt, One Road program, noting that government-initiated projects oftentimes lack adequate evaluation and bidding mechanisms, ignore risks and are undertaken for political purposes.

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