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Lebanese Pundit Floats Chinese Reconstruction of Beirut Port

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August 7, 2020

A prominent commentator in Lebanon suggested late Wednesday that a top Chinese construction firm could take up the herculean task of reconstructing the Port of Beirut after a massive explosion destroyed much of the site and surrounding neighborhoods.

China has for years attempted to get Lebanon to join its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global plan to rebuild the world’s most important ports, railways, and harbors and bring them under Communist Party control. The plan offers Chinese government loans at high interest rates to countries that cannot afford them, which are then used to pay the Chinese government for construction projects. When the countries involved failed to pay their loans on time, China seizes their assets.

The project claims to seek the reconstruction of the Ancient Silk Road, which connected China to Europe. Lebanon is located at about the halfway point of the proposed direct link from Beijing to Western Europe.

Beirut may be in more need of reconstruction than ever in its history after a blast destroyed a significant percentage of the city on Tuesday. Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab revealed later that day that authorities believe the explosion was the result of a pile of nearly 3,000 tons of flammable ammonium nitrate, used as fertilizer and as an illegal bomb-making ingredient, detonating for unknown reasons. Authorities reportedly confiscated the explosive substance after seizing a suspicious ship at the port in 2013 but never did anything to secure the material, including moving it to a less densely populated area.

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This article was posted: Friday, August 7, 2020 at 4:27 am

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