President Xi Jinping recently floated the idea of creating a "health silk road" paralleling the Belt and Road, which could further China's "mask diplomacy" efforts to provide medical supplies abroad and portray itself as a provider of international public goods. However, experts note that disinformation efforts by Chinese officials about COVID-19 are prompting pushback and could hinder such efforts.
Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the Competing Visions of Japan, India, and other regional powers, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
Environmental and anti-globalization groups in Belgium are seeking to halt the construction of a logistics hub by Chinese company Alibaba, claiming the $80 million project will increase pollution and create only low-quality jobs, Nikkei reports.
Huawei says it currently has 91 commercial 5G contracts worldwide, surpassing its chief competitor Ericsson's 79 contracts. The company also announced plans to invest $20 million in 5G innovation projects in the UK, Nikkei reports.
European firms seeking to participate in China's Belt and Road Initiative face rising hurdles while Chinese state-owned companies are successfully pricing out their European competitors. As European leaders gear up for several high-profile meetings with Beijing in the coming months, a push for greater transparency and reciprocity along the BRI could help level the playing field.
The European Union has decided to endorse limits on "high risk" suppliers of 5G equipment, a decision largely targeted at the Chinese technology company Huawei, Nikkei reports.
The UK has announced that it will allow the limited use of Huawei equipment in its 5G network despite pressure from the U.S. to exclude the Chinese tech company due to security concerns, Nikkei reports.
The European Chamber describes the role of European business in China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), suggests ways the initiative can become more inclusive, and recommends areas where the EU can both complement the BRI and develop its own connectivity strategy into a credible alternative.
Amid rising concern about Chinese technology companies, German legislators are challenging a government proposal that would allow the use of Huawei equipment in the country's 5G network, Nikkei reports.
Chinese president Xi Jinping's visited Greece's Port of Piraeus on Monday, where the port's operator, Chinese state-owned shipping company COSCO, is set to invest another $661 million. Xi's trip underscored China's intent to continue expanding its footprint in Europe through its Belt and Road Initiative despite skepticism, Nikkei reports.
Belarus recently secured a $500 million loan from the China Development Bank and stopped negotiations on a possible loan from Russia. The agreement followed a series of investments under China's Belt and Road Initiative, including funds for Belarusian railways and the Great Stone Industrial Park, raising speculation that the Eastern European country is seeking to deepen ties with China and reduce its dependency on Moscow.
French president Emmanuel Macron will meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping in Shanghai ahead of the China International Import Expo. His visit follows the announcement of a new EU investment screening framework designed to shield European technology and infrastructure from growing Chinese influence.
This new report by the Rhodium Group and Mercator Institute for China Studies takes stock of Europe’s toolkit for responding to market distortions spilling over from growing Chinese investment and other commercial linkages with Europe.
China's deepening economic ties with Central and Eastern Europe caused Secretary Pompeo to express concerns during a recent visit to the Balkans, Nikkei reports.
Germany lowered its national maximum foreign investment threshold from 25 to 10 percent in December, in part due to rising concerns over growing Chinese investment in digital and other infrastructure across Europe.
Through means, motive, and opportunity, China's expanding economic footprint and political avenues of influence in the Western Balkans have deepened and widened with profound implications for the region’s economic development and long-term dependency.
The freight unit of Germany's state-owned railroad group Deutsche Bahn plans a major increase in capacity for China-bound shipments, counting on continued support for overland transport under China's Belt and Road connectivity project, reports Nikkei Asian Review.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Greek President Prokopios Pavlopoulos, calling on Greece to help promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Europe. Beijing is seeking support for BRI from within the European Union as Europe's trade and investment relations with China expand, reports Nikkei.
Some European countries are allowing equipment from China's Huawei into their 5G networks. A full ban is not seen as cost-efficient where Huawei gear is already incorporated into national 4G wireless infrastructure, reports Nikkei.
The signing of an MoU during a March 22-24 by Chinese president Xi Jinping has made Italy the first G7 nation to join China's sprawling Belt and Road Initiative, but Rome will be wise to devote sustained long-term resources to the negotiation, implementation, and follow-up of whatever comes out of these memoranda to avoid the mistakes of other BRI partners.
China announced on Saturday that two more non-Asian nations, Switzerland and Peru, have signed on to its Belt and Road Initiative. As Asian Belt and Road participants view with initiative with increasing skepticism, China is looking elsewhere for supportive partners, reports Nikkei.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Italian PM Giuseppe Conte agreed to uphold Japan's four conditions for high-quality infrastructure during a bilateral summit in Rome. Italy recently signed on to China's Belt and Road Initiative, sparking concerns the country would fall prey to "debt-trap diplomacy," reports Nikkei.
The United Kingdom's National Security Council has barred Huawei Technologies from supplying equipment for sensitive "core" components of its 5G network. However, Prime Minister Theresa May has accepted the National Cyber Security Center's conclusion that the risk from Huawei's participation can be mitigated, and thus will allow the company to contribute equipment to "non-core" parts of the network, reports Nikkei.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Slovakia later this month, where he plans to offer Eastern European leaders Japanese-financed infrastructure investments. Abe is expected to raise concerns about China's so-called debt-trap diplomacy, presenting Japan's approach as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, reports Nikkei.
Austrian Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl expressed concern over China's economic inroads in Europe that have now brought Italy, a G7 power, into the Belt and Road club. Kneissl said the rest of the European Union must recognize the risks and deal with Beijing's expansionist wallet diplomacy, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
The European Union's recently adjusted China policy describes Beijing as a "systemic competitor." Yet from Greece to Italy, China's Belt & Road infrastructure investments, and the political influence these afford China, undermine efforts to build a European consensus on China, reports Nikkei.
China Communications Construction has signed an agreement to operate the northern Italian port of Trieste. Combined with Piraeus in Greece, Sines in Portugal and Valencia in Spain it could form a new Chinese-controlled logistics network capable of redesigning Europe's industrial chains, reports Nikkei.
Xi Jinping arrived in Italy today to sign a memorandum of understanding for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a development that has already drawn criticism from the U.S. Washington’s frustration is understandable, but it plays right into Beijing’s hand. Publicly criticizing Italy’s decision gives unwarranted weight to vague documents that, like the BRI itself, overpromise and underdeliver.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters Germany will "consult with the U.S." about the risks of allowing Huawei to help build the country's 5G network. The announcement comes as Washington threatens to halt intelligence sharing with allies who refuse to ban the Chinese telecommunications firm from 5G equipment contracts, reports Nikkei.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Friday that he is open to signing a deal that would make Italy a member of China's Belt and Road Initiative. The move risks stirring up divisions with other European Union members distrustful of Beijing's expansionist bent, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Italy is preparing to become the first of the G7 group of industrialized nations to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but what does this mean? James Kynge, the FT’s global China editor, looks at the main implications citing data collected by the Reconnecting Asia Project.
The European Commission has become increasingly critical of various Chinese investments within the EU, fueling an ongoing debate within Europe about investment screening. While the EU released a framework for foreign investment screening implicitly aimed at China in November 2018, the debate has exposed cross-cutting divisions within Europe. Looking ahead to 2019, we should not expect a clear resolution anytime soon.
The China Road Project, a team of researchers interested in China’s role in global development, will be traveling 60,000 kilometers over land and sea to investigate China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a foreign policy concept and global infrastructure plan announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, to help close the information gap and shine a light on the multi-trillion dollar initiative.
Japan’s Nippon Express will begin offering regular freight train shipping between China and Europe in February, as China’s Belt and Road Initiative accelerates the transfer of goods between the two markets, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
This Friday China will gather 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the annual China-Central and Eastern European "16+1" summit. As the gathering may help China build a bigger economic and political presence in Europe and exercise its power bilaterally under the cover of a multilateral veneer, it warrants more attention from Brussels and Washington.
"China has lavished investment pledges on Balkan states as it prepares for a summit with 16 EU countries and aspiring members, stoking fears in Brussels and influential national capitals of an effort to divide the bloc" reports the Financial Times, citing data collected in collaboration with the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project.
Since 2012, China has held an annual "16 plus one" forum on economic cooperation with 16 Eastern European states and has pledged to invest a total of $15 billion in infrastructure improvements so far.
A recent report from the Reconnecting Asia Project suggests intercontinental rail will not likely capture enough trade to fundamentally change Eurasia's broader economic picture.
Quotes and Quotas is a digest of phrases and facts that help explain Asia’s infrastructure push.
Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist. Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese cities with 34 European cities. But despite their rapid advances, these lines must compete with maritime routes that have dominated commerce between Asia and Europe since the late fifteenth century. It remains to be seen how much trade they can capture.
State Grid Corp. of China has announced plans to bid for a 20 percent stake in a local German power grid operator. If successful, the deal will be China's first investment in Germany's critical infrastructure.
In the past decade, China has opened an investment bridgehead and is building a transport network in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. The level of engagement by Chinese state-owned companies, political leaders, diplomatic representatives, lending institutions, universities, and cultural organizations is gradually redefining the relationships between China and these regions of Europe.
British prime minister Theresa May is expecting $12.8 billion in commercial deals with China. The agreements would focus mainly on the fields of finance, agriculture, science and technology, as well as President Xi Jinping's flagship Belt and Road Initiative.
China has achieved remarkable infrastructure progress in recent years. As the Chinese say, if you want to develop, build the road first; and as investors say, no infrastructure, no FDI.
There has to be a balance between funding any project that a government politician thinks is a good project versus a very long drawn out review process that could take up to a decade. Somewhere in between, there is something that’s long-term economically valuable.
Broad generalizations about “Belt and Road projects,” whether positive or negative, are not particularly helpful and could even be dangerous when formulating policy. A more successful approach is likely to involve nuanced and localized policies in the same way that China has adopted localized approaches to infrastructure investment under the BRI umbrella.
The political damage Chinese investment in the CEE has created for the EU is already visible in its inability to act cohesively vis-à-vis China on trademark foreign policy issues, namely upholding the international rule of law and protecting human rights.
The evolving nature of international trade due to China's Belt and Road Initiative will be one key trend to watch in 2018.
Chinese investments in Central and Eastern Europe are raising concerns about transparency and accountability, but for now, the risks are relatively manageable given the modest scope of investment.