Local, global security firms in race along China's 'Silk Road'
By Brenda Goh, Michael Martina and Christian Shepherd
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Global security companies and their smaller Chinese rivals are jostling for business along Beijing's modern-day "Silk Road", the grandiose plan for land and sea routes connecting the world's second largest economy with the rest of Asia and beyond.
Representing investments of hundreds of billions of dollars, the pet project of Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen boosting economic growth at home, and as positive for everything from steel prices to cement makers.
Security firms also expect to tap the rush, offering to protect thousands of Chinese workers - and the pipelines, roads, railways and power plants they build - as they fan out across the world under the "One Belt, One Road" (OBOR) initiative.
It won't be easy, however, with executives warning that state-owned enterprises running or planning projects from Africa to Vietnam sometimes prefer to deal with fellow Chinese, treat safety as an afterthought and try to keep costs to a minimum.
"OBOR is a lifetime (of work) for us," said John Jiang, managing director of Chinese Overseas Security Group (COSG).
The small consortium of security providers was set up early last year and operates in six countries: Pakistan, Turkey, Mozambique, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.
"In eight years' time, we want to run a business that can cover 50-60 countries, which fits with the One Belt One Road coverage," Jiang told Reuters.
Chinese personnel are essentially barred under Chinese law, and that of many host nations they work in, from carrying or using weapons. Continued...