China inks Silk Road deals with Brazil, Russia and India

Jun 05, 2015 12:00 AM

Chinese construction companies are expected soon to begin surveys and feasibility studies on a 5,300-km-long trans-oceanic railway project that will connect Brazil with Peru. The move, which was made possible during recent meetings between Brazilian leaders and visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May, is the latest example of China's efforts to extend its Silk Road program to Latin America.

The project will be watched closely by environmentalists because it will likely to pass through the Amazon forest. Environmentalists have focused protests on expansion plans for the 4965-km partially paved Transamazonia highway, which traverses the Amazon Basin and also links Peru and Colombia to the Atlantic coast.

"We invite Chinese companies to participate in this great infrastructure project," Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said in a statement.

Also in late May, China started building a pipeline to receive Russian gas. This follows the signing of a $400-billion gas deal last year to build the Power of Siberia pipeline. Russia will invest $55 billion for the Russian section, including bringing new gas fields on stream.

Russian energy giant Gazprom said the new effort marked "the start of the execution stage from preparation phase". The company said that its pipeline company had signed an agreement with China's CNPC's pipeline project team for constructing the Russia-China eastern gas pipeline starting from Heihe on the border and running to Changling in Jilin province.

In recent weeks, Chinese President Xi Jinping also has spent considerable time on the road visiting Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to take forward his Silk Road agenda. Leaders of these countries expressed enthusiasm for the program but no specific infrastructure project other than the Russian pipeline was finalized.

Xi also received Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his home town of Xian, and spent a long time meeting him in Beijing as well last month. Indian officials made it clear New Delhi has its own choice of projects that might fit into the Chinese plan but the country will not fully accept the Beijing's proposal for linking Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar under a BCIM plan.

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