Nepal latest to join new Silk Road project
KATHMANDU: Nepal yesterday signed up to China’s new Silk Road drive, a massive infrastructure project spanning some 65 countries at the centre of the Asian giant’s push to expand its global influence.
The long-discussed deal between impoverished Nepal and its much bigger neighbour comes just days before China hosts a summit for 28 leaders near Beijing, showcasing the ambitious plan.
The One Belt, One Road Initiative (Obor) spearheaded by President Xi Jinping would see 60 per cent of the global population and around a third of global gross domestic product linked through a network of Chinese-bankrolled ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.
The deal will see China plough money into Nepal for a series of projects, including boosting its road network, power grid and a new railway connecting the capital with Lhasa in Tibet.
Analysts have expressed concern over the Asian giant’s attempt to take a lead in global commerce.
Fitch Ratings said political motivations might trump “genuine infrastructure needs and commercial logic”, leading to “a heightened risk of projects proving unprofitable”.
Struggling countries could be saddled with Chinese loans requiring payment regardless of project performance, said Fitch Ratings.
China’s Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong appeared aware of such criticism and described the plan as a “symphony performed by an orchestra” not China’s “solo show” in a speech. AFP