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As a teenager, Faye Wilkinson travelled on several Intrepid family holidays. Can I help? Dec 18, There are a lot of myths about sailing the high seas, but with Intrepid's handy Feb 08, No sweetheart this year? No worries. Jan 09, There's so much more to Cuba than cigars, rum and vintage cars; it's also a playa Aug 26, Travel.
It's all in the timing. Mar 22, I love the autonomy of traveling on my own, feeling free to make plans and Jan 18, Read on for a selection of cycling trips we're most excited about in New and Mar 05, When I was given the opportunity to go on a small group adventure to Cuba with Jun 12, Wondering what the Cuba travel restrictions mean for you as an American Nov 20, In short, I am super grateful that Aisha convinced me to travel with Intrepid.
Oct 31, After my Intrepid trip there, I've concluded that there's 10 things you can only As a company Apr 25, When I describe Cuba after returning from my 9-day visit, the first word that Jun 15, I imagined riding in the back of a classic car and salsa dancing in the streets of Jul 15, I watched the Caribbean Sea lap against the rocks, the classic cars stream past in May 31, From vintage cars to hand-rolled cigars, Cuba is a country with many facets to Feb 07, Picking the perfect spot for your next family holiday can be tricky.
Jan 14, Think the best way to see Cuba is from the back of a vintage convertible? From cycling among limestone karsts to horse-riding Aug 21, There have been many stories written already about La Habana.
Aug 05, We don't want to attribute it solely to the Instagram age, but there's just Jul 05, I went into my Intrepid Travel tour thinking it'd be nine days of just eating rice Jun 16, Here's what Trump's decision means for U. Jun 11, Watching a fourth generation tobacco farmer roll an organic Cuban cigar became one Mar 31, The best way to have a real adventure is to rid yourself of expectations and Apr 06, The President just went there.
The Rolling Stones just toured. What do improving Mar 20, With Obama touching down in Cuba for the first presidential visit in over 50 years Dec 10, Quick, think of words that best describe Cuba. Nov 17, Cuba has a reputation for being pretty photogenic, but can an iPhone handle all Apr 01, Fidel Castro, vintage Chevrolets, revolution, rum.
These are just a few of the But what does it mean for Hola Cuba - for US citizens, 9 days Trinidad Walk the sleepy streets of Trinidad and immerse yourself in the Afro-Cuban rhythms as you pass locals strumming guitars. Also, did someone say salsa lesson? One Week in Cuba, 8 days Santa Clara Home to the final resting place of Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, Santa Clara gives you an insight into the history of political conflict and the rise of revolution in the 20th century.
Beautiful Cuba, 8 days Santiago de Cuba Far from the capital and full of cultural and historic highlights — stroll through the city, perhaps stopping off for a local rum, or travel during Carnival for a festival like no other. Vinales Walk or cycle! This valley is not just tobacco — cave exploration, medicinal crops and salsa lessons are all on the cards.
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Thank you! Check your email for details on your request. There has been growing attention to this issue in the United States and the advanced industrial democracies of Japan and Western Europe. Both within and beyond these countries, meanwhile, policy too often transposes Western solutions and is not well adapted to local realities. Second, the project aimed to strengthen capacity by facilitating a sharing of experiences and best practices across national boundaries. Third, the project sought to develop policy prescriptions for the governments of these countries, as well as the United States and its strategic partners, to mitigate and respond to activities inimical to political independence or well-balanced economic growth and development.
We began by holding workshops, so that influencers across countries could share experiences and compare notes. After holding several workshops for each region, Carnegie scholars conducted extensive interviews and a comprehensive review of open-source data and literature on Chinese activities—including extensive media monitoring in local languages, from Bengali to Nepali, Georgian to Greek.
For this reason, these surveys aimed to identify, distinguish, and analyze only those specific activities that could constrict options, reduce the scope of choice, and reward a narrow interest group or elite. The second of the three dimensions is crucial because China frequently couples its use of economic and political carrots and levers to broad-ranging public relations outreach.
When China floods a country not just with investment but also with strategic messages designed to influence public opinion, there is often little space left for counter-narratives, especially in countries that lack independent media or have weak civil societies.
The third of the three dimensions is critical because in the most vulnerable countries of these two regions, civil society and academia are often too fragile to provide balanced coverage of the activism of external powers. In some cases, Chinese funding and so-called united front tactics have shaped domestic narratives. Beijing, like other outside powers, cultivates friendly voices in nearly every country.
But in some countries, there are few counterweights. Over the last decade, China has developed a greater variety of interests and more connections than ever with countries, including in parts of Europe and South Asia. With these new channels of influence, it has developed expectations of exceptional consideration for its interests and is willing to exercise pressure in its pursuit for special treatment.
This paper builds on the research carried out through focus groups, extensive interviews, and detailed archival analysis and media mapping in four South Asian states—Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka—to learn from their rapidly evolving relationships with China, as well as explore the impact of Chinese influence cross-nationally and comparatively.
All four countries have distinctive vulnerabilities. In some, state institutions are brittle. In others, civil society provides an inadequate check on the actions and powers of the state. Elsewhere, elites are prone to capture, including by external actors, such as China and its proxies. The study attempts to make sense of deepening Chinese activism by framing it in terms of the impact it has on the vulnerabilities in these states.
Ultimately, the paper hopes to offer policy recommendations that aid the countries in discouraging unproductive Chinese actions and influences, while engendering the kind of engagement that is in their interest.
China is helping to construct mega infrastructure projects in every country in the region, in most cases with money that it has lent them. Chinese actors are proactive in seeking opportunities, often approaching public or private stakeholders with suggestions for engagement, and timing project completion to coincide with upcoming elections. This earns them goodwill and increases the possibility of getting projects going. These can be in the form of incentives or threats, used to deter or compel both state and nonstate actors in focus countries.
Sometimes, coercive threats are used to lead local actors such as journalists to self-censor. At other times, blandishments and incentives such as buying advertisements, offering collaboration for a media outlet with the embassy, and so on are used to evoke compliance. The commonly heard narrative of China practicing debt-trap diplomacy—a practice of offering easy money for unviable projects with the aim of gaining control of assets—does not hold in the four countries studied.
Sri Lanka, most often cited as an example of debt-trap diplomacy, has an overall debt management problem. Other countries like Nepal and Bangladesh have been prudent in choosing their funders and methods of financing, often choosing traditional multilateral institutions or other bilateral lenders as partners.
Countries are learning from each other and changing how they exercise agency as a result. In what is perhaps the most key finding from the project, stakeholders that were engaged highlighted their awareness about the negative consequences of Chinese engagement, as well as their willingness to avoid them.
Correspondingly, state actors in the focus countries have exercised their agency in keeping their national interest in mind while dealing with China. This includes rejecting specific projects found to be untenable.
In many instances, it is the governments in the states under study that have pulled China closer when they see clear benefits in cooperating—China can provide domestic political advantage ahead of elections, as well as deliver public works and other benefits to constituents.
China and its partners are still having teething trouble—for now. China is a relatively new entrant to South Asia and is yet to clearly understand the institutions and organizational cultures of the focus countries.
Likewise, the countries under study are still figuring out how Beijing thinks. These divergences account for the dissonance and diplomatic faux pas that are often visible.
However, both sides are acutely aware of what they mean to each other, and keen to learn to work in the interest of the broader relationship. India is still a more significant strategic player than China. India continues to be the state with the most influence on the choices, interests, and conduct of the countries under study. However, the balance is gradually shifting toward China, for the role it can play as a developmental partner as well as a balancing factor against the regional power, India.
Steady engagement from the United States and its partners is still very much desired by all four of these South Asian states. These expectations, and the China challenge, can be met with a consistent presence and a long-term policy for the region, as opposed to the current perception of piecemeal and fleeting engagement.
Chinese projects focus on what the four states are perceived to need—so should U. Like China, the United States needs to marry its capabilities and proposals with the development priorities and domestic needs of the four South Asian states.
Connectivity and infrastructure projects are at the top of the wish list for all South Asian states and have become a key area of cooperation with China. To increase their profile in the region, the United States and its partners must pay attention to what the countries are asking for. The Build Back Better World initiative announced at the June meeting of G7 leaders is a productive step in this direction.
As countries in the region transition to middle-income status and become ineligible for much of concessional assistance, the United States could use its influence in Western multilateral organizations to help these states develop alternative avenues for development assistance.
De-hyphenate U. It would be prudent to pitch American assistance on its own merits and intrinsic value. It should be delinked from a broader anti-China thrust, and it should not be held hostage to the focus countries tempering their relationships with China. As small countries, it is unlikely that Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, or Sri Lanka can afford to explicitly choose among relationships with bigger powers. Any sort of conditionality reduces the avenues for cooperation.
Communicating a positive agenda, not just a negative one, will win greater favor among governments, businesses, and the public. Acknowledge domestic drivers and build capacity to reduce space for China. One way the United States can circumvent being seen as interfering when it brings its assistance to the table with governance conditionalities is to build domestic capacity and strengthen civil societies in these focus countries.
All four states in this study have media outlets and civil society organizations that have been focusing on questions of good governance. The United States can identify and equip them with grants and training to enable them and their audiences to ask tough questions and ask for transparency.
In doing this, the pressure on governments to do better comes from within rather than without. Abdul Momen responded within a day, reminding China that Bangladesh was free to make its own foreign policy choices and to pursue alignments and relationships in its interest. He also confessed to some surprise that Beijing would wade into the internal choices of another country. The reality is that China has been emboldened to assert its interests in South Asia more directly because of profound changes in its relationships with states in the region.
Over the past decade, it has developed a greater variety of interests and more connections than ever. In parallel, China has developed more channels of influence as well as a greater expectation of deference to its interests and a greater willingness to exercise pressure in their pursuit. Over the last decade, China has become far more attentive to its South Asian periphery, moving beyond commercial and development engagements to more far-reaching political and security ones.
This has left an incomplete picture of Chinese engagement because it misses the degree to which South Asian states are trying to manage and mitigate the impacts of Chinese influence that they view as inimical to their interests, even as they continue to develop political, military, and especially commercial ties with Chinese actors.
The four countries have distinctive vulnerabilities. In some, civil society provides a weak check on the actions and powers of the state. In some, elites are prone to capture, including by external actors, such as China and its proxies. The goals of this paper are threefold: to explore how China has leveraged specific vulnerabilities in these four South Asian states in pursuit of its interests; how these vulnerabilities can be plugged; and how sharing experiences among these four states could help them to strengthen their individual and collective hands, ensuring productive Chinese engagement in their interest while discouraging or mitigating the effects of unproductive Chinese actions and influences.
Ultimately, the paper aims to help strengthen local capacity through policy recommendations that could help these four countries mitigate and withstand the destabilizing elements of Chinese engagement while channeling Chinese energies in directions that support their interests. Analyzing the South Asian Setting The four countries considered in this paper are not precisely alike. For example, Maldives and Sri Lanka have been extremely receptive to Chinese loans for infrastructure projects.
Bangladesh and Nepal, by contrast, have preferred alternative models to finance their development needs. In Bangladesh, China has emerged as the primary supplier of military hardware—a relationship that is not replicated in the three other countries.
In Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, political actors with clear pro-China leanings have emerged, but not in Bangladesh. It is important, therefore, not to overgeneralize about the region. But, although the four countries are different, each is vulnerable in some way. And, above all, countries with such vast gaps in capacity invariably face challenges as they engage with China.
In this context, it is important to study the relationships of these countries with China individually or through a particular thematic lens such as infrastructure finance. However, examining the cases comparatively and comprehensively offers a more granular understanding. This paper, first, explores how each country measures on three axes of vulnerabilities—the comparative strength of state institutions, the robustness of civil society, and the dynamics of prospective elite capture.
In examining state institutions, the study looks at how each state vets or monitors Chinese economic or political activities. Its analysis of civil society focuses especially on whether and to what extent the media and nongovernmental organizations NGOs identify and expose irregularities. It explores potential elite capture by tracking foreign penetration of and influences on each national elite.
Second, the study looks at the gaps in comparative analysis of the four countries. However, much of this learning takes place passively—watching closely what has happened in a neighboring country, drawing lessons, and trying to avoid making the same mistakes. This second section of the paper provides them with suggestions for how to do so. This section of the study draws especially on the insights of a network of influencers and experts from each of the four countries, as well as extensive interviews, focus groups, and other forms of stakeholder engagement.
Over the course of this one-year project, the Carnegie Endowment assembled this network whose members straddle major sectors, including the government, political parties, the diplomatic service, media, chambers of commerce, industrial interests, academia, think tanks, the civil service, and nongovernmental organizations. The aim was to gain a whole-of-society understanding of dynamic attitudes toward China in and across the countries.
To the latter end, the Carnegie Endowment brought together some of these stakeholders from different countries, facilitating comparative discussion and a sharing of experiences and ideas.
Fourth, the paper compares what is happening in the four countries by triangulating insights from this network with primary and secondary research, media monitoring, and deep analytical dives into all aspects of their relationships with China.
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Several Confucius Institutes have opened in Bangladesh in quick succession. In Nepal, multiple schools have made Chinese-language courses compulsory after the Chinese government offered to cover the salaries of the teachers involved. It has organized virtual seminars and workshops with members of the ruling parties in Nepal and Sri Lanka to discuss the relationship and avenues of cooperation between the parties.
The UFWD operates to influence political, economic, and intellectual elites in other countries; in the current context, that involves forging a narrative that paints China as a key player in the global order and a partner for the future.
Among others in the region, Nong Rong, ambassador to Pakistan is also known to have a background in the department. The pandemic has created opportunities for China to work directly with the four countries in new ways—on the provision of medical equipment, biomedical expertise, and capital for coronavirus-related needs.
In it has supplied Sinopharm vaccines to the four countries. China will be eager to step in. Its technological and scientific collaborations, even if still inchoate, will offer options through the Health Silk Road. But this increasing Chinese engagement and influence will likely exacerbate domestic divisions in all four states.
It will create stakeholders in close relations with China, which has the potential to pit political and commercial elites against each other. In the case of countries with fragile institutions, underdeveloped civil society, or elites susceptible to capture, this may eventually weaken the state itself. For now, however, in most of the four states, China is still largely viewed as a partner that can assist with developmental needs—and it will not be easy for the United States to contest this.
Multiple stakeholders from the region say that U. China, on the other hand, is perceived as a player with a plan. Moreover, despite questions about and criticism of its presence, Chinese actors have taken tangible steps to build confidence in their resolve and staying power.
Bangladesh The relationship between Bangladesh and China took a few years to warm up, with the two countries establishing diplomatic relations only in The largest number of infrastructure projects developed with Chinese help in South Asia are in Bangladesh. At the same time, the relationship embraces elements of a strong security partnership.
Inthe two countries signed agreements on law-enforcement training assistance and providing arms and ammunition to the national police. This balancing act extends well beyond security. China has been an ideal partner for Bangladesh to expand its manufacturing base to cater to diverse export markets, including the Chinese one, and to overcome infrastructure gaps through project finance and construction.
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Economic engagement is primarily in trade, infrastructure, and business-to-business partnerships. For instance, China has allowed 97 percent of Bangladeshi goods duty-free access to its domestic market since June The 1,megawatt Payra coal-powered plant, the largest power plant in the country, which came online inis brought up most often as an example of the success of the model.
Additionally, under a maintenance agreement with the Chinese company, Bangladeshi workers will be trained and technology to run the plant will be transferred in the five years after the start of operation.
The Chinese exchanges are expected to help set up platforms with information about listed companies, to offer tools to analyze performance, and to help increase network security and provide digital surveillance software.
China also exhibits a degree of sophisticated coordination that extends beyond these usual measures. Chinese businesses, the embassy in Dhaka, and other Chinese stakeholders appear to move in concert when reaching out to their Bangladeshi counterparts to gauge areas for new business opportunities, which can then be followed by informational seminars and offers of capital, all to set the ball rolling on a rapid timeline of just a few months from exploratory contact to contract.
Inat an event organized by the Bangladeshi conglomerate Cosmos Group, Ambassador Zuo Zhang detailed Chinese efforts to resolve the Rohingya crisis, an issue that is important not just to people in eastern Bangladesh along the Myanmar border but also at the national level.
Inforty years of diplomatic relations were marked with a three-day cultural program on facets of Chinese life and society. It has emerged as the preferred overseas destination for Bangladeshi students. A Chinese naval hospital ship made a port visit at Chittagong inwhere it provided medical services.
The Rohingya conflict in Myanmar, which has led to an inflow of refugees in Bangladesh after sectarian conflict between Rohingya Muslims and Rakhine Buddhist communities, has been a cause of great concern for Dhaka.
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For example, in June the two sides exchanged letters on providing rice aid to the refugees. Beijing has been keen to leverage its relationship with Kathmandu to aid its own objectives in Tibet and with Tibetan diaspora communities that have left over the decades.
Ahead of the Beijing Olympics inprotests that broke out in the TAR were mirrored in protests in Nepal, which has a significant Tibetan refugee population. One Nepali stakeholder confirmed that Beijing was unhappy with the daily protests organized by the Tibetan community in Nepal at the time. When Xi visited the country in —the first Chinese leader in two decades to do so—a mutual legal aid treaty, agreements on border management, and even an extradition treaty were discussed.
This led to a critical fuel shortage and choked relief material arriving in response to the debilitating earthquake earlier in the year.
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Apart from sending a political signal to India, the agreement enabled landlocked Nepal, at least in theory, to end its sole dependence on India for goods and trade by giving it access to Chinese ports.
The two parties have coordinated closely on political and ideological issues. The CCP regularly funds visits for members of political parties across the spectrum, from leaders to grassroots-level cadres. It is also influenced by the reality of public support for the relationship in the post-blockade period and the elevation of China as a viable development partner, especially after Nepal signed onto the BRI in The two countries have signed several agreements on legal issues including boundary management, mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, and cooperation at the attorney general level.
Infrastructure features heavily in the relationship. The Kerung-Kathmandu cross-border railway project is one of the most crucial ones underway. The Chinese have shared that they have been considering our request to expand the railway networks to Nepal. However, new initiatives have been announced sinceincluding the annual joint military exercise Sagarmatha Friendship. Under a Joint Command Mechanism Agreement, the two countries have discussed joint patrolling of the border.
SinceBeijing has made offering Mandarin courses more attractive for schools by bearing the cost of employing teachers. Teams of journalists from both countries regularly visit each other for knowledge sharing and consultations. China Radio International runs special Nepali programs as well as Chinese-language classes. It sent a rescue team within 24 hours of the devastating April earthquake. The two countries also signed an agreement in under which China would provide HADR equipment to Nepal and help it establish an earthquake-monitoring project.
This has gradually expanded with direct investments and state-backed policy loans. The economic relationship has been highly personalized and tied significantly to China cultivating a relationship with the Rajapaksa family that was in power from to and has been again sincethis time with brothers Gotabaya and Mahinda serving as president and prime minister respectively. Throughout this period, questions have arisen about the viability of projects and about impropriety.
When their bitter opponent, Maithripala Sirisena, defeated Mahinda Rajapaksa for the presidency inBeijing quickly welcomed a delegation of ministers from his new government. Most recently, this has been reflected in the way that the Chinese embassy named and thanked parties and leaders individually for attending a commemorative event to celebrate the centennial of the CCP.
The share of Chinese loans, while growing, is still less than 15 percent of external debt. Part of the reason is that China has sold the story of its own success.
Sri Lanka is increasingly popular with Chinese tourists, who accounted for a peak of Nor are they vulnerable in precisely the same way. But all display at least one of these vulnerabilities, which makes it harder for them to manage and mitigate the negative effects of a rapid inflow of external money and influence while giving them fewer levers with which to steer Chinese energies in directions that support their own national strategies, priorities, and developmental objectives.
Factors that determine whether and how each of these four states is vulnerable range from relative domestic capacity to how political systems and more or less independent civil society groups have evolved in recent history. The presence of a vulnerability does not necessarily indicate an absence of institutions or some independence of civil society. It merely suggests that the ability of these institutions and civic groups to shape and steer Chinese energies varies widely across the four countries.
This is why, for example, the issue of captured or capturable elites is more relevant in Sri Lanka than in Bangladesh, while civil society in Nepal is more capable of fulfilling its role in steering Chinese influence than is the case in Bangladesh.
In Maldives, while the risks of elite capture substantially lessened with the change of government inthis could change if power again changes hands in or Still, no matter who is in power, the structure of elite politics and the political economy in Maldives makes all of its elites less prone to external capture than those in Sri Lanka. Vulnerability 1: Fragility of State Institutions Examples of brittle or weak state institutions include those that are too weak to conduct robust due diligence and proper investment screening; weak regulatory bodies; institutions with uneven law-enforcement capabilities, or poor anti-corruption systems; and judicial agencies that are too weak or captured to conduct proper judicial review of executive or legislative decisions.
Bangladesh, Maldives, and Nepal have vulnerable state institutions while Sri Lanka has stronger ones. Sri Lanka has the most robust administrative regimes and capable institutions among the focus countries, and Bangladesh, despite substantial indications of fragility in its institutions, follows closely behind. Yet both still face hindrances in the way they operate that make it harder to stave off external pressure, including from Chinese actors.
Nepal is at risk because of long-standing institutional weaknesses that flow from its choppy process of post-monarchy democratization. Maldives suffers from inadequate institutional capacity. Political pressure on institutions of democracy and governance Fragility within the political system can manifest itself especially where the ruling political party has a strong leader or a large majority in the national legislature, allowing it to push through laws that benefit a narrow elite or to put unofficial political pressure arduino joystick controller other institutions.
Such fragility results in corruption, inefficiencies in bureaucratic and law-enforcement mechanisms, as well as a failure to ensure transparency and adherence to procedure. Bangladesh has a highly personalized political system in which power has rotated between two families.
This suggests a certain level of stability in democratic governance. But these states are still vulnerable to outside pressure because their governments have made or attempted constitutional amendments to their own benefit and to fend off political challenges. This is most conspicuous in Sri Lanka, where China has been extremely active and where the Rajapaksa family has been engaged in a long-drawn battle to make the presidency, which it has controlled for extended periods, extraordinarily powerful.
This removed the two-term limit for the presidency and constitutional oversight on presidential appointments to independent commissions, replacing a constitutional council for such appointments with a parliamentary council that would be under greater executive control.
The amendment was subsequently repealed under then president Maithripala Sirisena in However, this repeal has now been overturned by the current Rajapaksa government through the twentieth amendment, which returns many of the sweeping powers from the repealed eighteenth amendment right back to the president while making these actions unchallengeable, even on the basis of fundamental-rights applications.
This raises concerns about the maturity of the constitution and the extraordinary reach it offers to the Rajapaksa family. In Maldives, which democratized under the current constitution inpowerful leaders in the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party have asked that provisions be changed to transition the country from a presidential to a parliamentary system.
President Solih, however, is believed to feel differently. Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Until he was deposed in JulyOli had continued to serve as prime minister even after losing a vote of confidence in parliament as opposition parties failed to corral the numbers for a coalition government.
For instance, even though Sri Lanka and Bangladesh fare well with developed institutions, questionable practices and pressure can make their bureaucracies ineffective. In Sri Lanka, for example, questionable actions by the Rajapaksa government began coming to light after the Sirisena government that took power in reviewed earlier decisions.
This included investigations into allegations of nontransparent decisionmaking and corruption in China-funded projects. There have also been allegations in Sri Lanka of mismanagement in different government departments leading to heavy losses. Stakeholders believe there have been instances of collusion between politicians and government departments, leading to cost escalation and mismanagement of funds. Some hint that Chinese projects moved forward because contractors were willing to bribe officials.
In some cases, as with Gotabaya Rajapaksa, returning to power was followed by immunity against corruption charges. The environmental impact assessment report for the Colombo Port City failed to acknowledge the possibility of coastal erosion and damage to the fishing industry.
Nor was there any clarity on what the land reclaimed for the project would be used for. In his negotiations with China to restructure debt, Finance Minister Ibrahim Ameer accused the previous government of accepting kickbacks from contractors to keep contract prices high.
This resulted in an unusual arrangement during the Yameen years in which Chinese institutions offered loans to Maldivian individuals or companies backed by a sovereign guarantee from the Maldivian state. On coming to power, the Solih government admitted that it did not know the total amount of such loans. State institutions in Bangladesh are relatively robust compared to those in the other three countries, but stakeholders flag issues with corruption and political influence in approving Chinese-backed projects.
There have been no systematic reviews or answers on the charges. It won the bid even though it had been temporarily debarred by the World Bank. Local newspapers reported that a former communications minister was working with the Chinese firm and had lobbied for it to win the contract. This was not the first time Sinohydro had run into controversy around an infrastructure project in Bangladesh—it had earlier worked on the Dhaka-Chittagong Highway Expansion project and was blamed for stalling it for two years.
The problem has been present across all the four countries, with stakeholders reporting that Chinese loans seem to come with an unspoken expectation that there would either be no tender process or that the tender would be arranged to favor a Chinese contractor. A stronger state might have enforced these. Indeed, under the previous government, laws were amended to bypass competitive bidding.
Lawmakers alleged that the agreement with CHEC for the project was shrouded in secrecy, and the Rajapaksa government refused to share it even with the parliament or the leader of the opposition. This makes it more difficult to conduct a deliberative interagency process that balances competing interests and accounts for all aspects of the relationship with China.
In Nepal, the state has allowed Chinese observers to be unofficially present in government ministries related to development so that they can keep track of China-funded projects, thus subcontracting oversight from national officials to foreign actors that should be the subject. With the expansion of engagement with China in multiple directions, state agencies need to cope with changing scenarios and to modify their operating procedures.
On a scale of 0 to 1—with 1 indicating the least politicized criminal justice system, and 0 the most—Bangladesh scores lowest at 0. Nepal scores 0. And, as it has become increasingly sensitive about how it is portrayed abroad, China has started making demands on the resources of law-enforcement agencies abroad. Infor example, Chinese nationals were arrested in Nepal and sent back to China after local authorities failed to file charges against them.
The Nepali and Chinese authorities contradicted each other on the nature of the operation, with the former claiming that they acted alone with information from Chinese authorities, while Beijing claimed that it was a joint operation. International human-rights organizations have highlighted instances of how the police has been used to restrain the political opposition of the day and of citizens being arrested on charges of anti-government actions.
However, both are impeded by domestic systemic deficiencies that make them susceptible to foreign interferences. These include pressures on the institutions and administrative apparatus from members of the establishment that prevent them from playing the roles they are designed to play. In Bangladesh, corruption and elite interference have led to the weakening of the system of investment screening and contract review, leading to nontransparent agreements with Chinese partners. In Sri Lanka, similar interference has aided entrenched elites, leading to inefficiencies, cost escalations, and mismanagement of funds.
Nepal and Maldives demonstrate deficient institutional capacity that makes them vulnerable. Nepal is still in the process of institutionalizing its systems. Faced with accelerated engagement with China on multiple fronts, this has manifested itself in stretched bureaucratic capacity, from setting up rules of procedure to oversight mechanisms and law enforcement.
For Maldives, which democratized inthe challenges are associated with limited institutional capacity and skills. This has been reflected most significantly in loans accepted under terms that would have raised red flags in any system with adequate checks and balances. But, unlike the issues plaguing Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, these are not inadequacies that can be corrected primarily with political will. Dec 18, There are a lot of myths about sailing the high seas, but with Intrepid's handy Feb 08, No sweetheart this year?
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