HANGZHOU, China/SHIELI, Kazakhstan (Reuters) – On a windswept steppe in southwestern Kazakhstan, the new Chinese-backed cement plant on the outskirts of the village of Shieli stands as a gleaming symbol to some of the Central Asian country’s industrialization.
“We need oil-well cement for the oil and uranium industries,” said Yevgeniy Kim, deputy governor of the Kyzylorda region where the plant is located.
Plant - Reuters - Sidelines - Opening - Ceremony
“This plant should have been built much earlier. If it is needed, we will expand it,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of its opening ceremony in December, which was live-broadcast to the Kazakh capital Astana, where a nationwide event to present some of the country’s newest projects to President Nursultan Nazarbayev was being held.
Built jointly by Gezhouba Group and Kazakh firm Corporation DANAKE, the plant is an illustration of how China is using its “Belt and Road” initiative to redraw its manufacturing footprint well beyond its own borders, reshaping industries in the process.
Scrutiny - Belt - Road - Infrastructure - Plan
But amid increased scrutiny of Belt and Road – a sprawling infrastructure plan meant to foster trade along a new “Silk Road” linking Asia with Europe, the Middle East and beyond – others say China is using the initiative to export industrial overcapacity, especially in heavy polluting industries.
While the drive has encouraged China’s corporate giants to seek overseas business, some worry the trend could distort regional economies and increase their dependency on Chinese money.
China - Belt - Road - Initiative - Signature
China says the four-year-old Belt and Road initiative, a signature policy of President Xi Jinping, is a “win-win” opportunity that helps other countries upgrade their transport and infrastructure links while boosting its own trade.
Chinese authorities have also suggested it as a possible solution to its industrial overcapacity woes, a legacy of the billions of dollars it poured into infrastructure projects to weather the 2008/09 global financial crisis, allowing firms to shift to areas where...
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