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China’s Belt-and-Road Billions Come With a Cost

  • Chinese loans to Sri Lanka have piled up in recent years
  • Beijing’s big investments stretch from Myanmar to Pakistan
Colombo Port City Project.
Photographer: Atul Loke/Bloomberg

In the middle of a brand-new four-lane highway cutting through southern Sri Lanka’s jungle, Vijitha Gamage and his family left large piles of freshly harvested rice paddy to dry on the baking asphalt.

They didn’t need to dodge traffic. On a recent afternoon, the barely used highway built with Chinese money through a rural stretch of the island nation carried more 50-kilogram (110-pound) rice sacks than vehicles. "The road gets really hot, so the rice dries faster," Gamage said.