Beijing’s closest ally, Pakistan, sprung a surprise when it demanded visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to expand Beijing’s $60-billion-plus investment in the corridor

China has admitted that it may have to make some adjustments to Belt and Road-related works, an acknowledgement of concerns that the mega projects it is implementing in India's neighbourhood risk pushing countries to debt trap or fail to meet their needs.

Wang Jun, deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times that it was "normal and understandable that development focus can change at different stages in different countries, especially with changes in government. So, China can also make some strategic adjustments when cooperating with these countries".

These remarks came in the backdrop of opposition within the Pak government on the financing of the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor, and push back by Myanmar and Malaysia. The Chinese concession also comes amid increased international attention on China’s crackdown on Muslims in Xinjiang.

Beijing’s closest ally, Pakistan, sprung a surprise when it demanded visiting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to expand Beijing’s $60-billion-plus investment in the corridor, the flagship project under the Belt and Road initiative, to include manufacturing and poverty-reduction program.

Besides, Pakistan is seeking an IMF bailout package and it would require Islamabad to provide chapter and verse of the finances of Belt-and-Road-related projects. These have so far been kept under wrap.

More recently, protests against forced resettlement of eight Nepali villages have influenced CWE Investment Corporation, a subsidiary of China Three Gorges, to consider pulling out of a 750-mw hydropower project. CWE said it was looking at cancelling the project.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has suspended or cancelled $26 billion in Chinese-funded projects since his election victory in May. According to Malaysia’s Chinese-language Seehua news site China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company officially announced that it received notification from the Malaysia government that three Chinese oil and gas pipeline projects (MPP, TSGP and Petronas) have been formally closed. These three projects all completed only less than 15% of the work but most of the payments had been made to China.

Myanmar is negotiating a significant scaling back of a Chinese-funded port project on the Bay of Bengal — from one that was proposed to cost $7.3 billion to a more modest development that would cost $1.3 billion — in a bid to avoid shouldering unsustainable debt.

China has written off an undisclosed amount of Tajik debt in exchange for ceding control of around 1,158 square kilometres of disputed territory close to the Central Asian nation’s border with Xinjiang.

Meanwhile, Zambia, following in the footsteps of Sri Lanka that was forced to give China a major stake in its port of Hambantota because it could not service its debt, saw itself this month left with no choice but to hand over control of its international airport as well as a state power company to China.