CORPORATE SECTOR IN CHINA’S BELT & ROAD: Impact on people’s access to land and water


China is steadily changing the landscape of development cooperation on a global scale through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). With an estimate ranging from US$1 to 8 trillion, it’s touted as the largest overseas investment project undertaken by a single country ever.

Consequently, the sheer magnitude of the BRI alone is affecting the private sector’s involvement in development cooperation, especially in the global south. As illustrated by the case studies here, while a large chunk of the BRI funding comes from state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and Chinese State banks, the private sector plays a key role in the actual implementation of the various projects.

But recently, China has been receiving flak for its conditional investments and loans that are resulting in land and resource grabbing in Asia and Africa.

This paper attempts to highlight the private sectors’ involvement in development cooperation in the context of China’s BRI, the implications for peoples’ access to land and water resources, and a review of mechanisms, if any, to make them accountable.

Featured case studies:

  • Belt and Road Initiative in Pakistan (Roots for Equity)
  • The Aggressive Entry of China in Philippine Economy through Duterte’s “Build, Build, Build!” (Asian Peasant Coalition)
  • Hengfu Sugar Rush: A Case Study on Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia (People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty)

ERRATUM: In the research “HENGFU SUGAR RUSH: A Case Study on Economic Land Concessions in Cambodia,” it was mistakenly mentioned that Guangdong Hengfu Group SugarIndustry Co., Ltd. is a state-owned enterprise. The People’s Coalition on FoodSovereignty (PCFS) has confirmed that Hengfu is a private company and one of top five sugar companies in China. Nevertheless, the recommendation to the Chinese government remains and Hengfu should all the more be held accountable for its alleged abuses. (Issued February 2018)

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