Many infrastructure projects worldwide funded by China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are plagued with construction flaws, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, adding more costs to a program criticized for its lending practices.
In Ecuador and Pakistan, officials have discovered cracks in a pair of hydroelectric plants. Uganda identified defects in the Chinese-built Isimba Hydro Power Plant and construction of a hydropower plant further down the Nile has been delayed because of various construction defects, including faulty cables, switches and a fire extinguishing system that needs to be replaced.
Locals at a social housing project in Angola are complaining about cracked walls, moldy ceilings, and poor construction.
Still, China is receiving payments from countries that borrowed money to build the projects as part of Beijing's BRI, a massive infrastructure project launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping that aims to stretch from East Asia to Europe in a bid to boost global trade.
China has spent nearly $1 trillion in the last decade building those structures from east Asia to Europe. But some development experts say China is burdening countries with unsustainable debt as it asks for repayment.
"We know that China is very opaque about the terms of its assistance," Samantha Custer, the lead report author at AidData, a research lab at William & Mary University, told NPR. "They will include in lending contracts explicit non-disclosure clauses prohibiting the lender from saying how much was borrowed and under what terms."
The $2.7 billion Coca Codo Sinclair hydroelectric plant in Ecuador could break down quickly because of the defects.
"We could lose everything," Fabricio Yépez, an engineer at the University of San Francisco in Quito, who has closely tracked the project's problems, told the Journal. "And we don't know if it could be tomorrow or in six months."
"We are suffering today because of the bad quality of equipment and parts" in Chinese-built projects, said René Ortiz, Ecuador's former energy minister and ex-secretary general of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Beijing last year reportedly revamped its troubled BRI, and Xi in 2021 noted that the international environment for BRI was becoming "increasingly complex," stressing the need to expand cooperation and strengthen risk controls.
Solange Reyner is a writer and editor for Newsmax. She has more than 15 years in the journalism industry reporting and covering news, sports and politics.
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