South Asia opposition candidates win on anti-China message
NEW DELHI (AP) — Three Muslim-majority South Asian countries have elected leaders who campaigned on a promise to temper Beijing’s growing influence, but analysts say reducing China’s foothold won’t be easy because of the billions of dollars spent and invested already.
The surprising elections in recent months of nonagenarian Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia, cricketer Imran Khan in Pakistan and longtime opposition lawmaker Ibrahim Mohamed Solih in the Maldives could present an obstacle for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s hallmark “Belt and Road” initiative to build ports, highways and other trade-related infrastructure.
Analysts say new governments in Malaysia, Pakistan and the Maldives are free to decide they no longer want Chinese investment in these projects, but they should be prepared to compensate China accordingly. How they could buy China out remains to be seen.