CG/LA Infrastructure's InfraBlog
By Jennifer Cheng July 16, 2013
China’s ambitious $40 billion plan to construct a rival to the Panama Canal in Nicaragua has captured the world’s attention, but the Middle Kingdom is no stranger to ambitious megaprojects in far-flung corners of the globe. New Chinese President Xi Jinping has long pushed Chinese companies to invest overseas to gain access to precious natural resources such as coal or mineral ore. And while China’s state-owned enterprises characteristically focus on extractive industries in impoverished countries, infrastructure projects — such as highways or power plants — are often thrown in as part of the deal. Beijing chooses to invest in many semi-pariah states of which Western democracies remain wary — such as Sudan, Belarus or Cambodia. These marginalized nations are happy to receive China’s grants and low-interest loans as securing similar funds from Western powers normally entails tiresome assurances on human rights and transparency — topics Beijing is only too happy to disregard.