Myanmar’s government is having second thoughts about a $9 billion port construction project financed by China, reports the Financial Times, amid concerns of the port coming under Chinese control should the country fail on its debt repayments.
Construction of the deepwater port will be led by China’s Citic Group, which will head a consortium responsible for 70% of the project, while Myanmar’s government takes the other 30%.
Officials are attempting to negotiate down the costs of the Kyaukpyu port in western Myanmar. The port, when completed, will provide China with a highly-desired trading corridor to the Indian Ocean that does not necessitate passing through the Malacca Straits. It is one of the many individual projects comprising Beijing’s recent ‘Belt and Road’ regional infrastructure initiative.
Kyaukpyu, one of Myanmar’s largest ever infrastructure projects, is giving policymakers “nightmares”, reports one official. “If the project doesn’t do well, there is the risk of defaulting and becoming a Chinese-owned port.”