‘China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart’

‘China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart’
Xi Jinping, dictator of China

China is building big infrastructure projects all over the world, over $100 billion of them, as part of its “Belt and Road Initiative.” It is designed to enhance China’s prestige, and is “a centerpiece” of Chinese dictator Xi Jinping‘s foreign policy.

But “‘China’s Global Mega-Projects Are Falling Apart,” reports the Wall Street Journal:

Built near a spewing volcano, it was the biggest infrastructure project ever in this country, a concrete colossus bankrolled by Chinese cash and so important to Beijing that China’s leader, Xi Jinping, spoke at the 2016 inauguration.

Today, thousands of cracks have emerged in the $2.7 billion Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant, government engineers said, raising concerns that Ecuador’s biggest source of power could break down. At the same time, the Coca River’s mountainous slopes are eroding, threatening to damage the dam.

“We could lose everything,” said Fabricio Yépez, an engineer at the University of San Francisco in Quito who has closely tracked the project’s problems. “And we don’t know if it could be tomorrow or in six months.”

It is one of many Chinese-financed projects around the world plagued with construction flaws….Flaws in some of the Chinese-built projects have come to light.

In Pakistan, officials shut down the Neelum-Jhelum hydroelectric plant last year after detecting cracks in a tunnel that transports water through a mountain to drive a turbine.

The head of the country’s electricity regulator, Tauseef Farooqui, told Pakistan’s senate in November that he was concerned the tunnel could collapse just four years after the 969-megawatt plant became operational. That would be disastrous for a nation that has been battered by rising energy prices, said Mr. Farooqui. The closure of the plant has already cost Pakistan about $44 million a month in higher power costs since July, according to the regulator.

Hydropower plants can have operating lives of up to 100 years, according to the World Bank.

Uganda’s power generation company said it has identified more than 500 construction defects in a Chinese-built 183-megawatt hydropower plant on the Nile river that has suffered frequent breakdowns since it went into operation in 2019. China International Water & Electric Corp., which led construction of the Isimba Hydro Power Plant, failed to build a floating boom to protect the dam from water weeds and other debris, which has led to clogged turbines and power outages, according to the Uganda Electricity Generation Co., or UEGC. There have also been leaks in the roof of the plant’s power house, where the generators and turbines are located, UEGC said. The plant cost $567.7 million to build and was financed mostly through a $480 million loan from the Export-Import Bank of China.

Completion of another Chinese-built hydropower plant further down the Nile, the 600-megawatt Karuma Hydro Power Project, is three years behind schedule, a delay that Ugandan officials have blamed on various construction defects, including cracked walls. UEGC also said the Chinese contractor, Sinohydro Corp., installed faulty cables, switches and a fire extinguishing system that need to be replaced. Earlier this year, the government had to start paying back the $1.44 billion it borrowed from the Export-Import Bank of China to finance the project, even as the plant remains inoperational.

The Belt and Road Initiative  is one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, that have 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global GDP. As of August 2022, 149 countries were listed as having signed up to the BRI.

Chinese builds the infrastructure projects on credit, which increases the debts of Third World countries in which the projects are built, often in ways that elude public notice, meaning that a Third World county’s sovereign debt may be much higher than Western countries realize. 60% of the lending from Chinese banks is to developing countries where sovereign loans are negotiated bilaterally, and in secret. China is the largest bilateral lender in the world. Loans are backed by collateral such as rights to a mine, a port or money.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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