The Wall Street Journal on March 6 reported that data from a study by the Center for Global Development, an international think tank, reveals that China is financing as much as $8 trillion in deals as part of its “Belt and Road Initiative” in 68 countries winding through Asia, Africa and Europe. The program has left eight countries financially vulnerable: Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, Montenegro, Pakistan and Tajikistan. It said China is emerging as a massive creditor to its economic allies taking up projects to upgrade roads, harbors and airports, making it an increasingly important financial influence on the world stage. It said the countries occupy footholds in Southeast Asia (Laos), an African port city-state (Djibouti), an inroad to Europe (Montenegro), a string of Indian Ocean ports (the Maldives and Pakistan), and a network of historic road and rail routes across central Asia known historically as the Silk Road. Montenegro is using its Chinese funding to build a super highway that will improve its connections with Balkan neighbors. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan are getting rails, roads, hydropower plants and a major gas pipeline. Mongolia will receive funding to build hydroelectric power plants and a major highway from the airport to the capital.In the process, debt levels and dependence on China are rising. Kyrgyzstan’s debt from infrastructure projects is projected to rise from 62% of gross domestic product to 78%, and China’s share of that debt will jump from 37% to 71%. China’s share of debt in Djibouti, where it has its only overseas military base, will rise from 82% to 91% of GDP as a result of infrastructure funding.

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