The “new silk roads”, major projects bumpy

Photo: Bay Ismoyo Agence France-Presse
Beijing has won the contract to build the first railway line to high speed from Indonesia, the plans of which were presented in a shopping mall of Jakarta, in August 2015.

Project of the railway line to the point of death in Indonesia, an industrial zone in the half-empty in Kazakhstan, construction sites, risky in Pakistan : the “new silk roads” in accordance with China are still far short of the ambitions of the president Xi Jinping.


This massive program of infrastructure intended to consolidate the trade relations of China and on three continents — Asia, Europe and Africa — was initiated in 2013 by Mr. Xi to increase the chinese influence across the globe. A goal again stressed at the recent congress of the chinese communist Party (CCP), at the head of which Mr. Xi obtained a new mandate of five years.


Known in China as “belt and road” — a belt of the earth which connects the Middle empire to western Europe via central Asia and Russia ; and the sea route to reach Africa and Europe by the China sea and the Indian ocean — this project provides for the construction of roads, ports, railway lines and industrial parks in 65 countries for more than 1000 billion dollars.


But the difficulties encountered on the ground to carry out such projects in democracies chaotic countries, countries with authoritarian or face rebellions, in contrast with the rhetoric of chinese leaders




In Indonesia, for example, Beijing has won in 2015 and the contract to build the first railway line to high speed in the country. But after more than two years, the work has barely begun, due to political rivalries in the archipelago of South-East Asia. The indonesian president, used for joko Widodo, had launched the project in January 2016 at Walini, in the west of the island of Java, but no trace of the railway line was still visible on the site where some excavators digging in the earth during a recent visit by AFP reporters.


“The first year after the launching ceremony of the project, I have not seen any progress,” said Neng Sri, a street vendor capita Mandala Mukti, a nearby village. “The works were started only in recent months. “The indonesian ministry of Transport declined to comment while the consortium of chinese companies and the indonesian has not responded to the demands of the AFP.


Another project of high-speed rail line linking China and Singapore via Laos, Thailand and Malaysia faces the same difficulty. The section in Thailand has been delayed by disputes concerning the financing, the borrowing conditions and labour legislation and not very flexible. It is only in July that the ruling junta has approved a budget of $ 5.2 billion to start the work.


In Laos, the construction is in progress on the line of 415 kilometers. But even in this country, a staunch ally of Beijing, the project has caused controversy due to its high price — about € 5 billion, or half the GDP of Laos — and of criticism as to the usefulness of such a line for this very poor country.


China has also chosen to invest in risk countries, such as Pakistan. Beijing and Islamabad signed in 2013 agreements totalling $ 46 billion to build infrastructure for transport and energy on this “hallway” that guarantees a new opening up of maritime China. But in the province of Balochistan, the rebels have blown up gas pipelines and trains and attacking chinese engineers.


While chinese officials and other countries regularly promote these projects, the benefits for ordinary citizens are far from being obvious. “The high-speed train is not for us,” said Sri, a villager living next to the railway line planned in Indonesia. “This is only for people with very busy that feel that time is money. “

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