What the world's emptiest international airport says about China's influence
It’s tempting to see OBOR as a muscled-up Marshall Plan, the American-led program that helped rebuild Western Europe after World War II. OBOR, too, is designed to build vital infrastructure, spread prosperity and drive global development. Yet little of what China offers is aid or even low-interest lending. Much OBOR financing comes in the form of market-rate loans that weaker countries are eager to receive — but may struggle to repay. Even when the projects are well suited for the local economy, the result can look a bit like a shell game: Things are built, money goes to Chinese companies and the country is saddled with more debt. What happens when, as is often the case, infrastructure projects are driven more by geopolitical ambition or the need to give China’s state-owned companies something to do? Well, Sri Lanka has an empty airport for sale.