Japan think tank sees obstacles ahead for China's Belt and Road

China's BRI project is creating 'friction' and 'increasing uncertainty' in the region, according to Japan's National Institute for Defense Studies

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Image from NIDS report

Image from NIDS report

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The “National Institute for Defense Studies” (防衛研究所), a Japanese think tank, released the annual “2019 China Security Report” on Jan. 30, which discussed global trends and concerns related to Beijing’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative (BRI).

The NIDS report predicts that China’s attempt to expand global influence through the BRI project is likely to face same serious obstacles under the leadership of Xi Jinping and his clique over the coming years. China is causing “friction with the existing global order” and “increasing uncertainty” throughout the Southeast Asian region, says the report.

Referencing recent setbacks for the BRI in Malaysia, the report notes that Beijing's strategy to achieve regional hegemony may run into many more potential obstacles ahead.

In Malaysia, Prime Minister Mahathir recently re-iterated his reasons for canceling several very high-cost infrastructure projects that were set to be financed through Chinese loans. Mahathir said that a project like the high-speed rail link would “impoverish” Malaysia for future generations.

Malaysia is just one of what may be a string of countries who begin to question, or renege on economic agreements with Beijing, which are coming to be viewed as “debt-traps” and a neo-colonial strategy to entrap national governments and seize crucial infrastructure.

The report also points out the increasing tension in the South China Sea, as China becomes more bold in its attempts to assert dominance over the entire region. According to the report, China’s strategy in the South China Sea is already attracting opposition from a growing coalition of countries, led primarily by the United States.

Heightened tension between India and China is another major point of discussion. The report suggests that competition between the two neighbors is likely to result in a continuous deterioration of diplomatic relations, which may imperil the success of the BRI throughout the region.

The report also observes that China’s increasing attempts to coerce and suppress Taiwan internationally could ultimately result in even worse relations between China and other nations in the region.

The full NIDS report in English can be viewed here.