Some countries are scaling down or scrapping entire projects that are part of China's Belt and Road Initiative amid mounting financial concerns over the continent-spanning venture.
In recent months, developing nations such as Pakistan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone have either canceled or backed away from previously negotiated BRI commitments, citing worries over high project costs and their impact on national debt and the economy.
That revised stance not only confirms global fears over the terms of BRI financing, it could also indicate that developing countries are now more willing to prioritize sovereign interests over their need for foreign investment.
The BRI — Beijing's signature foreign policy program — is the superpower's attempt to stretch its economic power across the globe through the construction of maritime and overland transportation links across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. But critics see it as a means to benefit China's military, increase opportunities for Chinese companies and help Beijing gain political leverage.
Under the trillion-dollar endeavor, Chinese state-owned entities flush with cash offer participating countries cheap loans and credit to build large-scale projects such as ports and railways. These arrangements are usually negotiated government-to-government with below-market interest rates but many nations are growing wary over their debt loads.