Malaysia rescinds earlier rejection of China's Belt and Road railway scheme

CHINA has announced that it has persuaded Malaysia to resume a cancelled rail project worth US$10

16 April 2019 - 19:00

CHINA has announced that it has persuaded Malaysia to resume a cancelled rail project worth US$10.7 billion. The sudden reversal by Kuala Lumpur, which had earlier rejected the Chinese-funded project, will be a big boost for China ahead of a Belt and Road Forum in Beijing later this month, reports the New Delhi Times.

China is holding its second annual Belt and Road Forum April 25-27 in Beijing. The event is likely to include the heads of state and governments of 40 different countries and officials from 60 others as Beijing tries to win more support for the trillion-dollar infrastructure and investment plan known as the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI.

In recent months, the initiative has faced tough challenges as Sierra Leone, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Malaysia cancelled or reduced the size of previously negotiated deals. Although Malaysia is back on board, it has forced China to accept a 30 percent reduction in the price of the project.

Malaysia, worried by the number of Chinese warships what seemed to be part of the deal, pulled out, but reconsidered reported London's Financial Times after being told it faced $5.3 billion 'termination costs'.

The reworked deal with Malaysia highlights how China is trying to face up to widespread criticism about the financing costs of its projects and concerns expressed by experts and government leaders around the world that the projects are nothing but diplomacy debt traps, reported the New Delhi Times.

'I think China is trying to make changes. But it is trying to do too much too quickly and with too much skepticism facing it. No wonder it's having a torrid time,' said Kerry Brown, director of the Lau China Institute at King's College London.

Opposition also comes from the US and India, which see Belt and Road as an attempt to impose financial imperialism on economically weak but strategically important countries, hence the concern about the demand for the presence of warships.


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