There is an air of El Dorado about Gwadar, a fishing village on the Persian Sea with dreams of becoming a glittering metropolis. Advertising billboards along the rubbish-strewn streets feature digitised images of skyscrapers and tourist-clogged beaches. Offices with names like Gold Mine Investments and New World City have sprung up overnight. Property prices have risen up to 30-fold, turning poor fishermen into small-time tycoons with four-wheel drives and second wives. Dealers such as Kamran Ali, 25, have flooded in from the big cities. “In five years’ time this will be like Dubai, or parts of Europe,” he said. Or, possibly, Beijing. Gwadar’s ambitious plans hinge on a giant deepwater port whose money, bricks and mortar come from China. Last year 400 Chinese labourers worked 24-hour shifts to complete the project, intended to serve Afghanistan and Central Asia. Through cheap loans and generous grants the Chinese government covered 80% of the $250m (£144m) cost. Now a dredger is out in the bay carving a deep channel that will accommodate cargo ships, oil tankers and, if necessary, warships. A high-stakes geopolitical game is sweeping Asia. Triggered by a roaring economy, propelled by swelling confidence and funded by chequebook diplomacy, Beijing is… Read full this story
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