China Belt and Road dreams fade in Germany’s industrial heartland

Geopolitical tensions derail Duisburg’s hopes of trade bonanza

DUISBURG, Germany — Suad Durakovic, the owner of a truck driving school on the outskirts of the western German city of Duisburg, made it into Chinese newspapers in 2019 by testifying that Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative had triggered a local logistics industry boom.

Today, his business benefits from a shortage of qualified truckers, but not because of China’s global infrastructure development strategy.

“The Silk Road has not developed for us,” Durakovic told Nikkei Asia. “First it was COVID, then it was the Ukraine war, so the boom is no longer about Silk Road logistics.”

Duisburg, a city of half a million people, is located in Germany’s industrial heartland at the junction of the Rhine and Ruhr rivers. A downturn in the country’s steel and coal industries in the 1990s and early 2000s battered its economy.

But the city found a savior in Chinese President Xi Jinping, who visited Duisburg in 2014 to officially make its inland port Europe’s main Belt and Road hub. While this fueled anticipation of a new heyday, recent events suggest the prospects are dimming.

Much of this stems from the Ukraine war and Germany’s awkward relationship with China.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz was the first European leader to visit Beijing since Xi secured a third term as party leader at the Communist Party Congress in October. But German attitudes have soured recently over China’s cozy relationship with Russia, Taiwan and human rights, as well as its growing trade deficit with the world’s second-biggest economy.

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China Announces New ASEAN Belt & Road Initiative Projects Centered Around Cambodia

The Phnom Penh-Bavet Highway which will ultimately link the Cambodian and Vietnamese capital cities

The 2022 ASEAN summit took place at the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, this past weekend, with China as an official guest. At the event, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang announced Beijing’s approval of Chinese investment in significant infrastructure projects in the ASEAN region.  

Among these is a US$1.6 billion expressway to be built from Phnom Penh to Bavet, at the Cambodian-Vietnamese border, and financial support for a rail link between Phnom Penh, Bangkok, and Vientiane, Laos, from which a high-speed rail link has already been constructed into China. 

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China-indebted Laos way more broke than advertised

World Bank predicts public debt will swell to 95% of GDP by year’s end while ‘hidden debts’ to China likely take the figure north of 120%


Laos will be hard-pressed to meet its external debt obligations. Photo: Faceboo

Laos’ public debt could climb to nearly 95% of GDP by the end of 2022, making it one of the most heavily indebted and mostly likely to default nations in Asia, according to World Bank estimates published this month

Significantly, the World Bank’s already dire debt figures do not encompass all of the small Southeast Asian nation’s liabilities.

Asia Times’ reporting and analysis show that Laos’ total debt, including other publicly guaranteed liabilities not included in headline figures, could take the state’s total financial obligations well over 100% of GDP for the first time ever this year. And that’s only the debt officially recognized by the Lao government.

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Road to nowhere:China’s Belt and Road Initiative at tipping point

Pakistan, Sri Lanka debt crises threaten Beijing’s regional influence

By Adnan Aamir, Marwaan Macan-Markar, Shaun Turton and Cissy Zhou – AUGUST 10, 2022

The drive to Pakistan’s port of Gwadar takes seven and a half hours from Karachi via the Makran coastal highway. Much of the 600-km route is deserted, with no restaurants, restrooms or even fuel stations. On a recent journey, around 200 vehicles in total could be counted during the entire drive.

Arriving in the city on Pakistan’s Indian Ocean coast, Chinese and Pakistani flags are ubiquitous, and Chinese-financed construction projects loom, but the city is spookily devoid of economic activity. Near the seafront, broad avenues are curiously empty of vehicles. Inside the city center, the roads are narrow, congested and covered with foul smelling drain water, with few multistory buildings aside from the Chinese-built port compound. 

It is hard to visualize Gwadar as the launch pad of a new global paradigm, but that is what Beijing would have the world believe.

Nine years ago it was plucked out of obscurity —  a backwater in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan region — and presented as China’s commercial window onto the Indian Ocean, a hub for regional integration under the Belt and Road Initiative, which was to harness the juggernaut of the Chinese economy to the goal of Asian economic development. 

The BRI is an audacious program of lending, aid and infrastructure contracts totaling over $880 billion, according to the American Enterprise Institute.

The initiative, which includes pledges to 149 countries, aims to promote Chinese-led regional integration — and sow economic dependence on Beijing.

First announced in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as the “Silk Road,” the BRI was fleshed out in April 2015 with the announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), stretching from Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang. The CPEC showcased the China-Pakistan “all-weather friendship” with $46 billion in pledged funds that has since grown to $50 billion. It was to be the backbone of the now renamed Belt and Road Initiative.

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The New 14th BRICS Summit Declaration (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa)

 Jun 28, 2022 Posted by Silk Road Briefing Written by Chris Devonshire-Ellis

By Chris Devonshire-Ellis   

While the G7 group of nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States together with the European Union) has been meeting in Germany, the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) have been meeting in China for the 14th Summit. The contrasts could not be more different – one the grouping of mainly white, powerful Western nations, representing contemporary global leadership, the other a grouping of globally powerful emerging markets wanting a larger say in the developing world. The BRICS nations differ from the G7 in two main factors, most notably in the populations they serve – 3 billion as opposed to the G7’s 987 million (including the EU), and GDP, where the G7’s GDP is currently US$33.93 trillion and the BRICS about US$23.5 trillion.

Western economists as a result tend to talk up the G7’s role in global financial strength however the growth rates of both the G7 and BRICS predicted by the IMF suggest that the latter could be responsible for 50% of all global trade by the 2030’s. This means that paying attention to the BRICS consensus leads to some direction over how the global economy is likely to change over the next decade.

At present, the G7 appear determined to continue with the existing world order, which China and Russia in particular view as ‘unipolar’, meaning centered around the United States and directed by whatever US foreign, global and domestic policies are at the time. Both countries (and others) are looking for a more inclusive role in global affairs as befits their status. China for example is the world’s second largest economy, and India the fifth. Yet neither have the percentage say in global financial institutions such as the World Bank and IMF they would like – hence the development of alternative policy banks such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the BRICS own New Development Bank. There are also accusations that global institutions such as the United Nations (based in New York) has begun to be too influenced by Washington’s policies than global ones. Calls for reform are increasingly being heard.

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Asia Stream: A tale of three cities

Asia is home to some of the world’s largest and most dynamic cities. Why do some of them fail?

Nikkei staff writersFebruary 18, 2022 11:59 JST

NEW YORK — Welcome to Nikkei Asia’s podcast: Asia Stream.

Every week, Asia Stream tracks and analyzes the Indo-Pacific with a mix of interviews and original reporting by our correspondents from across the globe.

New episodes are recorded weekly and available on Apple PodcastsSpotify and all other major platforms, and on our YouTube channel.


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China’s Digital Silk Road and the Global Digital Order

China’s Digital Silk Road is an ambitious vision to catalyze global digitalization. What will it mean for digital governance?

By Richard Ghiasy and Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy – April 13, 2021   

China’s Digital Silk Road (DSR) was launched in 2015 as a component of Beijing’s vast vision for global connectivity, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Like the BRI, the DSR is not monolithic and involves many actors at all levels across the Chinese public and private sectors. It is amorphous and the line between official and unofficial DSR projects is often blurry. Comprehensive data on DSR investments is difficult to come by. According to one estimate, by 2018, DSR-related investments in digital infrastructure projects outside of China had reached $79 billion.

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Thái Lan sắp hưởng lợi khủng từ đường sắt Lào-Trung: Việt Nam đành “đứng ngoài cuộc chơi”?

VPDF –  20/01/2022 – 16:09

Thái Lan đã lên kế hoạch để tận dụng tuyến đường sắt Lào – Trung mới được khánh thành.

Thái Lan sắp hưởng lợi khủng từ đường sắt Lào-Trung: Việt Nam đành "đứng  ngoài

Thái Lan hưởng lợi từ đường sắt Lào – Trung

Theo China Daily, các chuyên gia cho biết Thái Lan sẽ thúc đẩy hơn nữa hoạt động thương mại quốc tế và kích thích nền kinh tế trong nước bằng cách tăng tốc kết nối với tuyến đường sắt Trung Quốc-Lào.

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Campuchia: 30 năm nhìn lại

DANH ĐỨC 13/12/2021 6:00 GMT+7

TTCTThứ năm 14-11-1991, Hoàng thân Sihanouk hồi loan từ Bắc Kinh, cùng theo ông có hoàng tử Ranariddh. Chủ nhật 5-12-2021 vừa rồi, hoàng tử hồi hương từ Paris trong một quan tài, sau nhiều năm dài xa xứ. Cũng tuần rồi, Thủ tướng Hun Sen giới thiệu con trai cả là ứng viên thủ tướng thay ông. Trong 30 năm qua, Campuchia thay đổi chính thể, triều đại, nền kinh tế, song có một thứ không thay đổi: quan hệ với Trung Quốc.

9h sáng thứ hai 6-12-2021, báo Khmer Times hoan hỉ đăng tin: “Đại sứ Trung Quốc tại Campuchia Vương Văn Thiên cho biết dự kiến Campuchia sẽ sản xuất vắc xin Covid-19 vào năm tới”. Số là ông đại sứ sáng đầu tuần ấy dự lễ khánh thành một con đường ở tỉnh Prey Veng, nhân tiện báo tin tốt lành đó.

Ông Hun Sen (phải) và đại sứ Trung Quốc Vương Văn Thiên. Ảnh: AFP

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Mỏ kim loại khủng ở Lào: Việt Nam dừng bước, “của hiếm” đổ hết sang Trung Quốc

vpdf – Ngày đăng: 09/12/2021 – 17:17

Dự kiến hàng triệu tấn kali khai thác ở Lào sẽ được xuất khẩu sang Trung Quốc nhờ tuyến đường sắt cao tốc mới khánh thành.

Mỏ kim loại khủng ở Lào: Việt Nam dừng bước, "của hiếm" đổ hết sang Trung

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ASEAN needs more Belt and Road money, say ministers

China-led investments needed to assist COVID-damaged economies

Chinese high-speed trains are flagship Belt and Road Initiative projects that will dramatically improve connectivity in mainland Southeast Asia.    © APCK TAN, Nikkei staff writerSeptember 1, 2021 21:14 JST

SHANGHAI — Ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations called on Wednesday for more multilateral investments through China’s Belt and Road Initiative to support economic recovery while the COVID-19 pandemic continues to depress regional economic growth.

Meeting online at a Belt and Road Summit, ASEAN ministers said the region has benefited from the infrastructure and digital connectivity already brought about by BRI, but new initiatives are needed to create opportunities amid pandemic-induced uncertainties.

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G7 approves B3W plan to push back China’s one belt one road

giThe adoption of the US-inspired “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project came after President Joe Biden and leaders met to address “strategic competition with China, the White House said.

By Feeds -13/06/2021165

PC L Aqeel Ahmed

G7 leaders on Saturday adopted a rival plan to oppose China’s Belt and Road Initiative by helping build infrastructure in poorer nations in a “values-driven, high-standard and transparent” partnership.

The adoption of the US-inspired “Build Back Better World” (B3W) project came after President Joe Biden and leaders met to address “strategic competition with China and commit to concrete actions to help meet the tremendous infrastructure need in low- and middle-income countries”, the White House said.

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How China Is Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative

September 8, 2020 — Asia Society Policy Institute Vice President for International Diplomacy and Security Daniel Russel examines some of the findings of ASPI’s new report Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative. The report explores relevant Chinese doctrine, highlights the involvement of China’s People’s Liberation Army with the BRI, and assesses the potential military and geostrategic advantages China accrues from BRI ports and other projects. (9 min., 59 sec.)

To download the report visit: