The rapid development of East Timor’s economy under the Belt and Road Initiative

Seetao 2019-11-12 11:16
  • As a small country, Timor-Leste’s diplomatic approach is to seek maximum self-interest between big powers.
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9 Minutes

On November 10, 2019, the Singapore media published a report entitled "East Timor Installed the Belt and Road Engine", which reported on the development of East Timor under the Belt and Road situation.

East Timor West is connected to West Timor, Indonesia, and across the Timor Sea to Australia. It is a direct flight from Singapore and it has arrived in more than three hours. After more than 400 years of rule by the Portuguese and 24 years of occupation by the Indonesians, East Timor finally got rid of civil strife in 2002 and officially became independent at 0:00 on May 20 of the same year. However, with the gradual withdrawal of the UN Peace Corps, the world seems to have given it Forgotten. In the 17 years since independence, is this the youngest country in Asia all right? On October 31, the flight from Singapore to Dili, the capital of East Timor, officially resumed after more than half a year of suspension. The reporter took this question and took the first flight of the re-launch to Dili.

The plane slowly landed at the Dili Airport in East Timor, and swept away from the cabin window. The most eye-catching is a green-white billboard - OPPO. After talking with the locals, it was learned that China's OPPO and South Korea's Samsung are on the same page, which is the most used mobile phone for East Timorese.

An airport staff joked: "With so many OPPOs, passengers who don't know Chinese brands may think that this airport is called OPPO International Airport." What I saw in East Timor for four days seems to confirm this fact: Chinese elements and their entrainment China’s influence is on the global emerging markets, and East Timor is no exception.

There are three landmark official buildings in Dili that were aided by China – the Presidential Office, the Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense and the Office of the National Defense Forces Command.

After East Timor became a member of the Asian Investment Bank launched in China in 2017, China’s Belt and Road Initiative came to East Timor. Among the more than 20 projects, 3 are particularly interesting. According to Xiao Jianguo, the Chinese ambassador to East Timor, it is “one network”, “one road” and “one port”, namely: East Timor State Grid, the first expressway Suai Highway, Tibah Port.

The East Timor National Grid project has entered the operation and maintenance phase. The first phase of the Suai Expressway project was opened to traffic in November 2018, and the Tibah Port project is under construction. Both the highway and the port will support East Timor’s oil and gas development plan.

The new port is located on the northern coast of East Timor. The project was won by the French company Borole, and was built by the China Harbour Engineering Company. After completion, it can dock 7,000 standard containers.

Into the construction site of the Tibah Port, the Chinese-style slogan is all over the place. When you are in the illusion of being in China, your eyes are swept to a small part of the slogan with English instructions. Only when we return to Southeast Asia.

Wang Wei, general manager of the China Harbour East Timor Company, responsible for the construction of Tibah Port, stressed that the work team is actually very international, not only Chinese, but also French, Australian, Brazilian, Portuguese and locals. The language is added with Chinese.

Some media have used the Tibah Port project as an example to refer to China’s increased influence in East Timor. In this regard, Wang Wei retorted: "(The media) did not mention that this is a project won by the French people, but only highlights the Chinese harbor. In fact, the Chinese harbor is only a contractor, and it was handed over to the French after the completion."

As a small country, Timor-Leste’s diplomacy is to seek maximum self-interest among big powers. Author / Xu Shiyu, Editor / Zhang Xianglong