China Builds Rail Line in Sri Lanka under Its Belt and Road Initiative

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China՚s Belt and Road Initiative Programme is to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors. The aim is to improve regional integration increasing trade and stimulating the economic growth.

This was the first rail line to be built in Sri Lanka since 1948. The inauguration of the project took place on April 08,2019.

This Map Show in China Build Rail Line in Sri Lanka Road

Belt & Road Initiative Plans and Overview

  • The sixty countries are a part of this project primarily in Asia and Europe. The infrastructure corridors also include Oceania and East Africa, will cost an estimated US $ 4 - 8 trillion.
  • This project known as New Silk Road was launched in the year 2013 with the aim of China to increase its global influence.
  • Silk Road came into being during the westward expansion of China՚s Han Dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) . This forged trade networks throughout in the Central Asian countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as modern-day India and Pakistan to the south. Those routes extended more than 4000 miles to Europe.
  • Creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings, both westward-through the mountainous former Soviet republics-and southward, to Pakistan, India, and the rest of Southeast Asia are the key objectives of this initiative.
  • China would also invest in port development along the Indian Ocean, from Southeast Asia all the way to East Africa under its Belt & Road Initiative.
  • China Railway Group 5 (CR5) constructed the 26.75 km railway extension connecting Matara and Beliatta in southern Sri Lanka. The Central Engineering Consultancy Bureau (CECB) acted as the consultant in the Project. The Trains on the track could run at 120kmph, the fastest in the country.
  • Initiative of China is seen as a counter against the much-touted U. S. “Pivot to Asia” . China is expected to develop new investment opportunities, cultivate export markets, and boost Chinese incomes and domestic consumption through Belt & Road Initiative.

Challenges in the Project

  • Some BRI investments have required the use of Chinese firms and their bidding processes have lacked transparency.
  • BRI money is seen as a potential poisoned chalice since some countries are taking large amount of debts for building the necessary infrastructure.
  • The new Maldivian government has begun to unwind some of the BRI projects.
  • Pakistan sought billions of dollars in loans from Saudi Arabia, International Monetary Fund, and China since 2018 with debt figures touching sky for Pakistan. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is at risk as Islamabad faces a balance-of-payments crisis.

India՚s Stand on BRI Project

  • India boycotted the BRI summit for the second time in a row.
  • India states that the project violates its sovereignty and would push the countries into a debt trap. Many nations across Asia, Europe and Africa, too, have expressed similar concern.
  • Lack of transparency in deals under BRI between Chinese companies and local governments is also one of the core issues involved in the project.
  • Overcapacity, high costs and high interest rates can push the host countries into a debt trap. Both Sri Lanka & Pakistan have been badly affected being the recipients of Chinese investments.

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