One Belt One Road
The One Belt, One Road Initiative (OBOR) or Belt and Road is an umbrella term used to cover a range of Chinese funded, and usually Chinese built, infrastructure projects around the globe. Usually it's a condition of funding that the host country use Chinese companies, and often Chinese workers, to build the project. Often the relevant facilities are then run by Chinese personnel. For economically vulnerable countries with ambitious leaders, a big advantage of Belt and Road money is that it rarely involves the accountability and transparency requirements of a regular loan, and is often accompanied by massive political donations. If the host country can't make the payments, China than repossesses the project.
The basic is idea is rebuilding the ancient Silk Route between Europe and China through the Islamic world, however China is also building a modern navy and ports to access raw materials from Africa for its manufacturing base. The Chinese Communist Party's loss of free access to the American consumer market to dump cheap manufactured goods, couple with worldwide revulsion stemming from the CCP's criminal negligence and mishandling of the CCP global pandemic, has dampened enthusiasm for the project outside of China. Massive unemployment inside China resulting from the CCP virus and imminent trade restrictions due years of human rights abuses by the communist regime portend instability for years to come.
The most notorious Belt and Road project is the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka that is now Chinese owned after the Sri Lankan government couldn't meet repayments and now hosts Chinese submarines. There are many other projects in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. For instance,
- a hydro dam in Ecuador;
- a Chinese run satellite control station in Argentina;
- a railway upgrade in Hungary;
- a facial recognition project in Zimbabwe;
- port construction and operation projects in Israel;
- coal-fired power stations in Pakistan;
- gas pipelines in Tajikistan;
- a new port in Burma with rail access to China
- a high-speed rail line in Java and
- a wharf big enough for an aircraft carrier in Vanuatu
The Burma port is intended to ship Persian Gulf oil to China without rounding the cape at Singapore, with the sea lanes defended by the Chinese naval base at Sri Lanka; the Vanuatu wharf is to counter the U.S. naval presence at Guam which defends shipping lanes of Persian Gulf oil through the South China Sea to Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea, key U.S. allies and trading partners.
Zimbabwe is also a key supplier of lithium, used to power electric cars and iphones. Communist China is seeking to dominate the world supply by making countries indebted to it through the Belt and Road inititiative. Australia, Argentina, and Namibia are also big suppliers.
One key element in Communist China's Belt and Road ambitions is building a modern ocean-going navy; prior to 2017 Communist China's military budget was largely funded by its trade surplus with the United States. American consumers were paying to build a navy to rival its own through the purchase of cheap Chinese manufactured goods and consumer products. American taxpayers then had to meet the challenge of rival military spending by modernization and upgrades of its own defense budget.
China has been looking to construct a 120 kilometer mega canal cutting through the Isthmus of Kra, the narrowest part of the Malay Peninsula in Thailand. This will open the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, bypassing the Strait of Malacca. What China is eyeing is a canal project in Thailand called the Kra Canal and the Thai leadership seems to be on board. Through this canal China is trying to reduce dependence on the Strait of Malacca. Currently 80 percent of China's oil imports passed through the South China Sea.
The Strait of Malacca is a key reason why China has not been able to grow too powerful. Democratic and powers such as India, Australia, and other Southeast Asian nations are well-positioned to cut off Chinese supply lines in the event of a major military confrontation by creating a blockade around the Strait of Malacca. China wants to ensure that its commercial and naval vessels find an alternate route that altogether avoids the Malacca choke point while travelling between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. This is an overhang of the maritime portion of Xi Jinping's Belt and Road initiative that seeks to connect Southeast Asia with the Middle East and Europe.