• One Belt, One Road trade route

One Belt, One Road trade route (Photo : Getty Images)

Numerous rivals in the security industry are now looking for ways to ensure opportunities to operate along China’s planned modern-day Silk Road, according to a report by The Star Online.

The project, dubbed as the “One Belt, One Road (OBOR) Initiative”, is an ambitious plan to connect China with the rest of Asia and beyond via land and sea routes.

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"OBOR is a lifetime of work for us," says John Jiang, managing director of Chinese Overseas Security Group (COSG). "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."

Increasing economic activity

Spearheaded under the current administration of President Xi Jinping, the project boasts of investments comprising of hundreds of billions of dollars. Beijing expects this massive plan to boost economic growth at home.

Not to miss on this lucrative opportunity, security companies are taking advantage of their options and jostling for business. Many of them are offering to protect thousands of Chinese workers, as well as pipelines, roads, railways and power plants that are being built.

However, executives involved with the initiative are giving cautions related to Chinese state-owned enterprises running or planning projects from Africa to Vietnam.

They warn that many of these enterprises prefer to deal only with fellow Chinese and treat safety as merely an afterthought while keeping costs low.

No easy road

Major international security firms are optimistic that their credentials and experience will be enough to persuade Chinese companies to make use of foreign services and expertise.

For instance, Frontier Services Group, a Hong Kong-based logistics firm, made an announcement in Dec. 2016 that it was planning to focus and capitalize on the OBOR initiative. The company was co-founded by Erik Prince, who created U.S. military security services Blackwater.

Smaller Chinese firms such as COSG as well as Shanghai-based Weldon Security and Dewei Security are keen to exploit state-owned enterprises’ preference for hiring Chinese firms.

"For Chinese firms, especially with security work, state companies want to speak with another Chinese person. We can also one hundred percent reflect their thinking when we work," says Hao Gang, Dewei general manager.