China’s economic progress over the past century has been phenomenal, lifting hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty. So when the Chinese government offers to share its experience in development — a prominent theme in its official speeches and documents — it should be taken seriously.
But the historical echoes are worrisome. Already, Sri Lanka, unable to pay back the $8 billion it owes Chinese state-owned enterprises for building major infrastructure on its territory, has agreed to lease its port in Hambantota to China for 99 years. That is precisely the term for which another strategic port, Hong Kong, was leased by the Qing to the British in circumstances that epitomize colonialism.
So one wonders: Is China presenting a new model of development to a world that could use one, or is One Belt, One Road itself the new colonialism?
Because these rail and other projects require security, they extend the Chinese government’s political reach into Central Asia, Pakistan and the Middle East. And as Beijing turns the South China Sea into a vast game of Go, its new ports in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and, potentially, the Maldives start to look like still more playing tokens.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/04/opin ... ght-region