KATHMANDU: Nepal on Friday signed up to China’s new Silk Road drive, a massive infrastructure project spanning some 65 countries at the centre of the Asian giant’s push to expand its global influence.
The long discussed deal between impoverished Nepal and its much bigger neighbour comes just days before China hosts a summit for 28 leaders near Beijing, showcasing the ambitious plan.
The One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR) spearheaded by President Xi Jinping would see 60 percent of the global population and around a third of global GDP linked through a network of Chinese-bankrolled ports, railways, roads and industrial parks.
The deal will see China plough money into Nepal for a series of projects including boosting its road network, power grid and a new railway connecting the capital Kathmandu with Lhasa in Tibet.
“We believe China will bring more investment to Nepal, helping the country overcome its status as a landlocked and least developed nation,” said Nepal Foreign Minister Prakash Saran Mahat at the signing of the deal on Friday.
Analysts have expressed concern over the Asian giant’s attempt to take a lead in global commerce, cautioning that an integrated world trade system where China’s Communist party sets the rules could come with serious risks and hidden costs.
New York-based Fitch Ratings said that political motivations might trump “genuine infrastructure needs and commercial logic”, leading to “a heightened risk of projects proving unprofitable”.