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China’s “one belt, one road” (OBOR) initiative has lots of ramifications for the transport and logistics industries. Some good, some bad, depending on your perspective. This view, published on the Project Syndicate opinion pages and authored by Brahma Chellaney, professor of strategic studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, argues that China is using the huge infrastructure investment that OBOR requires as a means to enhance its strategic and commercial objectives across a series of smaller nations. The “white elephant” ports of Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Gwadar in Pakistan, which have been almost completely absent of cargo since they opened, are two noted cases in point. “The projects that China is supporting are often intended not to support the local economy, but to facilitate Chinese access to natural resources, or to open the market for low-cost and shoddy Chinese goods. In a sense, it is even better for China that the projects don’t do well. After all, the heavier the debt burden on smaller countries, the greater China’s own leverage becomes.”

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