CHINA's big idea, "One Belt, One Road", a revival of Marco Polo's old Silk Road as a modern transport policy, has come under fire from the UN that fears its potential for fostering crime, reports Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report said countries were geared towards the trade and integration agenda, but law-enforcement protection agenda was lacking to prevent cross-border criminal activity.
President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" strategic initiative and the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) present "significant security challenges" because they lack adequate "safeguards" to prevent cross-border criminality.
The AIIB defended itself against accusations stating it would "not knowingly" finance questionable projects.
"Intensifying inter-regional connections have already exacerbated threats to ASEAN members, such as drug trafficking and wildlife trafficking," the UN said, citing One Belt, One Road, which spans two continents and connects 60 countries of 4.4 billion people.
Concerns about the AIIB emerged since "it is still uncertain what the Chinese government will include as standards and principles for social and environmental protection.
"There is also little mention so far of safeguards around opportunities for organised crime that arise from infrastructure investments", the report said.
AIIB spokesman Henry Bell said the bank provided a "comprehensive approach to the management of environmental and social risks and impacts." However, gave little mention about specific concerns to organised crime.
But Hong Kong pro-Beijing legislator and former Security Secretary Regina Ip, said she accepted "perennial" risk from enhanced economic opportunities.
"These risks are perennial problems when you have greater free flow of capital and trade - there are bound to be abuses. I think participants of the Belt and Road initiative will have to work together to stop these problems," she said.
Despite the security and crime threat, she said the initiative was "very important" for Hong Kong's long-term economic development because the Belt and Road will change the pattern of trade and logistics, and economic development in the whole region.
Source : HKSG.