Free from the Belt and Road: Is China's Belt and Road scheme too constrictive?
- March 1, 2020: Vol. 13, Number 3

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Free from the Belt and Road: Is China’s Belt and Road scheme too constrictive?

by Alex Frew McMillan

Sitting in a legal seminar here in Hong Kong, I was surprised to hear the guest speakers from China’s Department of Agriculture promote a fish-farming operation in the Philippines as part of the country’s much-touted One Belt One Road Initiative. They then added a rice-paddy project as part of the grand plan, as well.

Both projects seemed far removed from the infrastructure focus when Chinese President Xi Jinping first floated the One Belt One Road, or OBOR, idea in 2013. It has since morphed into a new name, still called OBOR in Chinese media, but generally called the Belt and Road Initiative by Chinese officials in English.

It is not just one road, not just one belt — not even one coherent plan. The agriculture officials demonstrate the tendency to include any project that receives Chinese support as part of the kind of five-year plans and grand schemes beloved by the Chinese Communist Party.

Now, India, the United States and Japan are establishing rival

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