- Malaysia has reopened a closed Chinese rail construction project after China agreed to slash the price by 30% from the original cost.Under the reworked deal,the 648-km rail link will now cost $10.6 billion.
- The concession to Malaysia is part of a broad reassessment of China’s ambitious infrastructure program known as the Belt and Road Initiative, as China has increasingly faced criticism of debt trap diplomacy,for lending huge sums of money to vulnerable countries and then taking over valuable assets when they cannot pay.
- Further,China appears to have agreed to the hugely lowered price because it is desperate to present a strong global infrastructure programme at the Belt and Road Forum to be held later this month.
- However,India has turned down an official invite from China to attend the second Belt and Road Forum meet.India had also boycotted the first Belt and Road Forum (BRF) in 2017 after protesting against the controversial China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is being laid through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) overriding India’s sovereignty concerns.
- China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving (a)regional integration, (b)increasing trade and (c)stimulating economic growth
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