As China is internationally funding so much global infrastructure with debt, worries are starting to emerge in many countries as to China’s real intentions. The massive amount of loans and threats of economic acquisition have led to heightened fears in many Kenyan organisations, have led to the backing out of Chinese deals in Malaysia, and even mass protests in Vietnam and the Philippines. From Asia to Europe, China has been signing deals with countries with troubled economic records, which is particularly the case with developing countries such as Sri Lanka, but also true of countries like Italy, leading some critics to label the One Belt One Road initiative “debt-Trap diplomacy”.
Big questions still remain over China’s plans following any possible defaults on loan repayments, a very likely outcome considering the amount of risky loans China has signed off as part of the OBOR Initiative. Furthermore, development projects such as the $3.6 billion Standard Guage Railway in Mombasa are helping to fuel corruption at a local level giving rise to additional negative outcomes. China’s silence on a workable contingency plans for unpaid loans, development downsides, and leaked evidence of sovereignty waivers being written into Kenyan port construction contracts specifically, have led many to believe the initiative is a front for neo-colonialism.