Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures
China; Tanzania; Sri Lanka; Equatorial Guinea; Belt and Road Initiative
China’s Belt and Road Initiative has resulted in a variety of investment and infrastructure projects around the world, especially in developing countries. This initiative is unique in its implementation strategy, particularly the hands-on approach China takes to each infrastructure development project. Projects are financed by Chinese national banks and built by Chinese corporations utilizing majority-Chinese labor. These projects are seen by many countries as mutually beneficial; China is able to provide gainful employment and business to its national corporations in exchange for lucrative infrastructure for the host countries in the form of advanced roads, rails, ports, etc. Other countries, especially in the West, argue that these infrastructure plans are a new form of “colonialism” stemming from the leveraging of extensive debt to gain full or leased ownership of vital land in strategic locations, like in the Indian Ocean. This essay seeks to examine the Chinese infrastructure-development experiences in Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and Equatorial Guinea. These three countries represent different uses of investment to reach China’s goals, such as increasing access to natural resources, long-term ownership of trade and transportation hubs in the Indian Ocean, and the potential for future military expansion. Examining each case study lends itself to different conclusions as to the motivations behind China’s extensive investment and what it could mean for the future of global geopolitics.