AugustMan (Malaysia)

TIES THAT BIND

WORDS BY IRIS LIM PHOTO BY GETTY IMAGES

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CHINA’S ASCENDANCE CONTINUES with the next edition of the Belt and Road Forum, which Beijing will host next year. The country’s One Belt One Road initiative involves expanding China’s maritime Silk Road, which mirrors the historic overland trade route that connected China to Europe and the Middle East.

The new Silk Road will link 65% of the world. While helpful to China, its benefit for the rest is still murky with some calling it a “trillion-dollar mistake”. For one, many participat­ing countries risk financial and environmen­tal damage. Sri Lanka’s ill-advised, poorly financed Hambantota Port is an example. Sovereignt­y issues abound too with Vietnam and India having territoria­l disputes with China. India had declined the invitation to attend the 2017 Belt and Road Summit. For all its considerab­le resources, China is also possibly overstretc­hing itself with the initiative. Perhaps the upcoming forum will offer an accurate idea of how things will develop. AM

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