Montenegro’s Chinese Road

It’s been called the priciest piece of tarmac in the world. In 2014 the government of Montenegro signed a contract with a state-owned Chinese company to build part of a 170 kilometre-long highway – a road that would connect its main port with the Serbian border to the north. The price-tag on the first 42 kilometres of asphalt was a staggering $1 billion - most of which has been borrowed from a Chinese bank. In Montenegro, questions continue to be asked about why the project went ahead when some experts said that it was not viable. The River Tara – a UNESCO protected site – has been impacted by the building works, and allegations of corruption and kickbacks have hung around like a bad smell. Meanwhile, the economy has taken a massive hit as a result of the pandemic, and some Montenegrins worry about the country's ability to repay the loan. Worse still, a clause in the road contract states that Montenegro may relinquish sovereignty over unspecified parts of its territory if there is a default. But is everything as it seems? Crossing Continents investigates.

Presenter: Linda Pressly
Producer: Mike Gallagher
Editor: Bridget Harney