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Analyst warns of ‘hyped’ opportunities in China’s Belt Road initiative

Opportunities in China's Belt Road Initiative (BRI) could be "hyped," with other states already exercising more caution in dealing with Chinese contractors, the Stratbase ADR Institute (ADRi) said Sunday.

"Although some analysts say that BRI is a promising initiative for infrastructure global development, it has also been criticized for being too ambiguous and murky," Stratbase ADRi president Dindo Manhit said in an emailed statement.

The BRI initiative is a pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping to connect Asian and European markets by pouring billions of dollars into infrastructure projects such as railways, ports, and power grids.

According to Manhit, the "ambiguous and murky" initiative has pushed certain countries to put in place certain preventive measures to avoid being in a situation where China would have leverage over them.

"[Issues with the BRI are] prompting states to exercise more caution in screening Chinese contractors and applying strong safeguards to prevent being trapped into 'debt diplomacy'," said Manhit.

Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp. Ltd. (HSBC) last year said the BRI initiative is seen to improve trade relations between the Philippines and China.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III last year also said the Philippines stands to benefit from the initiative as it coincides with the infrastructure spending plan of the government.

Under the Build, Build, Build program, the government plans to spend over P8 trillion until 2022, largely funded by government revenues from taxes.

This year alone, the Philippines plans to roll out over 70 big-ticket projects cumulatively valued at $35.5 billion or P1.1 trillion. — BM, GMA News