Many major Chinese-backed infrastructure projects around the world are falling apart. China’s $1 trillion “Belt and Road” initiative stretches from Asia and Africa to Latin America, investing in hydroelectric dams, housing projects, and other critical infrastructure. But concerns are growing over construction flaws at multiple China-financed and built sites, The Wall Street Journal reported. [China's Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart - WSJ]
Thousands of cracks appeared in an Ecuadorian dam that provides a third of the nation’s electricity, another hydroelectric plant in Pakistan was shut down last year, and a Ugandan power company found more than 500 defects in a dam finished in 2019. The damage is further increasing costs for countries already in debt to China, it added.
During the past decade, China handed out a trillion dollars in international loans as part of Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative, intended to develop economic trade and expand China’s influence across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Those loans made Beijing the largest government lender to the developing world by far, with its loans totaling nearly as much as those of all other governments combined, according to the World Bank.
Yet China’s lending practices have been criticized by foreign leaders, economists and others, who say the program has contributed to debt crises in places like Sri Lanka and Zambia, and that many countries have limited ways to repay the loans. Some projects have also been called mismatches for a country’s infrastructure needs or damaging to the environment.
Now, low-quality construction on some of the projects risks crippling key infrastructure and saddling nations with even more costs for years to come as they try to remedy problems.