Can China Turn the Middle of Nowhere Into the Center of the World Economy? | NYTimes.com Critics have described the B.R.I. as a new kind of colonialism or even part of a strategy of “debt-trap diplomacy,” seducing cash-poor countries with infrastructure projects that are unlikely to generate enough revenue to cover the interest on the loans that funded them. That is the unhappy situation at the China-funded Port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, which the China Harbor Engineering Company took over after Sri Lanka fell behind on debt service. The Center for Global Development lists eight countries that face high risk of “debt distress” from B.R.I. projects that they can’t afford.