Die Belt&Road Initiative is like a jigsaw puzzle where you don’t know if and how the countless pieces will fit together.
- Newsletter 10/2023Contents: Gastbeitrag: De-Globalisierung von oben? +++ Sri Lanka: Spiel über die Bande gegen China +++ Krieg um kritische Rohstoffe? +++ Unterrichtsmaterialien zu historischen und modernen Seidenstraßen +++ Ups and Downs: Beijing auf der Rutschbahn in Myanmar +++ Philippinen steigen aus BRI-Projekten aus +++ Lesehinweis: How the BRI Changed China +++ Blogroll Update: Belt and Road „gut erzählen“ +++ Der globale Fußabdruck von BRI +++ Quote: Whom to Trust?
- Newsletter 9/2023CONTENTS: Guest blog: Etikettenschwindel ‘Global Gateway’ +++ Lebenszeichen zum BRI-Jubiläum +++ Europäische Seidenstraße in Zentralasien +++ Global Gateway-Forum in Brüssel +++ Schuldenkrise: Streicheleinheiten vom IWF +++ Wer “Doppelnutzung” finden will, findet sie auch +++ Das „gefährlichste Schlupfloch“ in der regelbasierten Ordnung +++ Konnektivitäts-Initiativen +++ Lesehinweis: Sackgasse Polare Seidenstraße +++ Blog Roll Update +++ Quote: Who’s afraid of debt?
- The Ghost of the Global SouthThe multi-layered conflict between China and the USA and their relationship with Russia and Europe determine the current geopolitical discussions and antagonisms. Especially in the transatlantic discourse, the crucial role of the ‘Global South’ in this hegemonic realignment is often overlooked. However, the South’s role will determine whether the conflict will escalate into a new bipolar bloc confrontation or whether the adversaries will incorporate their hegemonic ambitions into a new, more equitable multipolar world order.
- Newsletter 8/2023Contents: IMEC: Geopolitik mit Wirtschaftskorridoren +++ G20 und das Tauziehen um den Globalen Süden +++ Just another BRICS in the Wall +++ Update: Ten years of BRI: Guests by surprise +++ Danke, Flugbereitschaft! +++ Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) Under Scrutiny +++ Kritische Menschenrechtsbilanz kritischer Mineralien +++ Historisches Referendum in Ecuador +++ Eisenerz aus Westafrika statt aus Australien +++ Readings: Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2023 +++ A Decade of the Belt and Road Initiative +++ Quote: Africa’s rising clout
- Just another BRICS in the WallAccording to the Western view, China and Russia were successful at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg with their objective of strengthening BRICS as an anti-Western alliance. It is indeed surprising that India, South Africa and Brazil have joined the invitation to six other countries, including Iran, albeit after some resistance. Western commentators are now faced with the mystery of why important countries of the Global South are behaving in a completely unreasonable manner.
- Newsletter 7/2023Contents: Und Chinas nächste Marinebasis ist …. +++ Vor dem BRICS-Gipfel … +++ Water cannon incident: Threatening “peace and security” +++ 1.000.000.000.000 US-Dollar für Belt&Road +++ Belt&Road in Kambodscha: Groß und teuer +++ Ciao China: Giorgia Meloni sucht die Ausfahrt +++ Readings: Auf der Suche nach Chinas Marinestützpunkten +++ Quote: NATO’s Expansion
- BRI 10 years after: Low mood to celebrateThe Chinese government will probably not be able to avoid paying tribute to the 10th anniversary of the kick-off of the Belt&Road Initiative, then called OBOR, by State and Party leader Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan and Indonesia in 2013. While it remained unclear for some time how this tribute would work out, there are now indications that there may be a 3rd Belt&Road Forum for International Cooperation this autumn. However, if this should materialize despite the narrow time frame by now, it will probably be difficult to top the influx of delegations from all over the world experienced at the first two meetings in 2017 and 2019. Because the times they have changed for Belt&Road.
- Germany’s China Strategy: “Wash me, but don’t make me wet!”The draft of Germany’s China strategy, which was presented on July 13, vacillates between the demand to checkmate the enemy and the desire to continue reaping the benefits of cooperation – both of which will be expensive in any case. The Federation of German Industries (BDI) immediately demanded that ‘Germany as a business location’ be made more attractive again. And the partners in the Global South courted for the balancing act between ‘risk reduction’ and ‘decoupling’ are predominantly skeptical.
- Newsletter 6/2023Contents: Deutsche China-Strategie: “Wasch mir den Pelz,…!” +++ Wird Indonesien Chinas ‘Ruhrgebiet’? +++ BRI 10 years after: Geringe Feierlaune +++ Mapping global infrastructure +++ Chinesischer Grüngürtel in Zentralasien (und anderswo) +++ Lithium: Claims abstecken in Lateinamerika +++ China’s overseas economic and trade cooperation zones +++ A Guide to Chinese Commercial Banks +++ Quote: Im Netz der „Einflussoperationen“
- Newsletter 5/2023Contents: Hindernisse auf der Seidenstraße +++ Schuldzuweisungen in der Schuldenkrise +++ Europeans consider economic relationship with China as bearing more benefits than risks +++ „The Future of Geopolitics Will Be Decided by 6 Swing States“ +++ Chinese Investments and Labour Struggles in Indonesia +++ Internationale Solidarität aufbauen! +++ Cambodia: Benefits and Costs of participation in BRI +++ „Guardians of the Belt and Road“ +++ The risks and rewards of economic sanctions +++ Preparing for or preventing war with China
- Newsletter 4/2023Contents: Taiwan: One finger at the button will be German ++++ UN-Menschenrechtsrat fordert Beendigung einseitig verhängter Sanktionen +++ ‚Lula’ da Silva in Beijing +++ ‚Entthronung’ des US-Dollar? +++ Geopolitischer Hotpot im Südchinesischen Meer +++ Civil Society Dialogue in the Context of the Belt and Road Initiative +++ Frisches Geld für Erdölpipeline in Ostafrika +++ Guinea: Joint venture for the world’s largest iron ore mine +++ Wie Beijing die Schuldenkrise managen will +++ China’s Overseas Investment in the Belt and Road Era +++ Quote: China-USA: Hand outstretched or PR?
- Taiwan: One finger at the button will be GermanThe remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron on the European positioning in the Taiwan conflict have made waves. A shitstorm erupted, especially in German media and among politicians. The consideration of whether he might be right, at least on some points, apparently occurred to few. The central question of how far this transatlantic solidarity would go, however, was left out of most of the commentaries.
- Newsletter 3/2023Contents: AUKUS: Rabiater Aufrüstungsschub im Pazifik +++ NATO’s Geostrategic Interests Towards China +++ Competing Peacemakers in Ethiopia +++ Grassroots mobilisation: Piraeus versus COSCO +++ Pakistan: Blame game around Chinese mine +++ Indonesien: Kosten des ‚Grünen Kapitalismus’ +++ Schuldenkrise: Welcome to the Club, Beijing! +++ Lesehinweise: „The Chinese ‚Debt-Trap’ is a Myth“+++ China in Africa: The Alternative
- Newsletter 2/2023Contents: Wird Europa zur Kriegspartei im Chip-‚Krieg’? +++ Philippinen: Kurskorrektur in Beziehungen zu Washington +++ Tauwetter zwischen Australien und China +++ Laos: Auf dem Weg zur Kolonie? +++ Nigeria: Lernt Belt&Road Public Private Partnership? +++ Myanmar: China an der Seite der Militärjunta +++ Chinesische Palmölgeschäfte in Indonesien +++ Asiatisch gelesene Stand up-Comedians +++ Quote: ‚Ground Zero’
- Newsletter 1/2023Contents: Belt&Road Forum in diesem Jahr? +++ Was wird aus dem Seidenstraßenprojekt? +++ Central Asia: Forward Defense of Freedom +++ Chinas Rohstoffregime am Beispiel Graphit +++ Chinas neuer Außenminister auf diplomatischer Safari +++ Gipfel-Konkurrenz um Afrika +++ BRICS: Ein zerstrittener Fünfer-Club sucht neue Mitglieder +++ China-freundliche Regierung in Nepal? +++ Brasilien: Mit China aus der Krise? +++ Ups and Downs along the Silk Roads +++ Quote: Periphery Diplomacy
- Central Asia: Forward Defence of FreedomThe Euro-transatlantic view of the Russian invasion of Ukraine largely ignores its significance for Central Asia. The Kremlin’s martial stop signal for further NATO expansion should probably also send a message to Russia’s eastern neighbours: We are still capable of defending our sphere of influence and interests in the region. The outcome of the Ukraine war is therefore also of decisive importance for the future credibility of this claim.
- Newsletter October 2022CONTENTS: Posts: Upgrade for Belt&Road to BRI 3.0? / The Dance Around China’s Overseas Projects // News: Russland und China bauen Brücken in Fernost / Mongolei: Kooperation mit Skylla und Charybdis // Countercurrents: China-Watch / Environmental Justice Atlas / Internationale Solidarität mit ‚Riders’ in China // Reviews: Redefining Asia as ‚Indo-Pacific’
- Upgrade for Belt&Road to BRI 3.0?In the report of General Secretary Xi Jinping for the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Belt&Road was only mentioned in passing. Even in the speeches of other top politicians, the former flagship project, with which the government in Beijing has stirred up the global development discourse since 2013, hardly figures anymore. Some observers therefore already want to declare BRI dead.
- The Dance Around China’s Overseas ProjectsChina dominates the world in its overseas development finance into power plants, mines, dams, and other infrastructure. However, while many projects sail through, a good many get stalled. The results have less to do with Beijing and more with the strength of the host country partners. There is a complex dance between governments, elites, and bureaucrats to win the best “deal” with China, including Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. These deals may benefit not just the economy, but also may empower one of these three actors.
- Newsletter August/September 2022CONTENTS: Posts: USA-China: Freunde verzweifelt gesucht / USA-China: Striving for friends // News: Warnung vor Abhängigkeit von Rohstoffen aus China / Die Züge rollen – trotz Krieg // Countercurrents: Proteste in Kambodscha gegen Digitale Seidenstraße // Readings: China in the Americas / Internationalisierung des chinesischen Ordnungsmodells?
- USA-China: Striving for friendsApplying the principle ‘winner takes all’ to the competition between China and the USA would probably mean, according to widespread view, that the one of them takes over world hegemony, either ‘authoritarian’ or ‘free’. However, the situation is far from that point, and the battle between the two rivals is continuing to rage unabated.
- Newsletter July/August 2022Contents: Blog Posts: Taiwan – Der Druck im Kessel steigt // News: Is Beijing betting on the wrong horse in Myanmar? / Due to the debt crisis Beijing is becoming a multilateralist / Weitere Rückenstärkung für Taipeh durch USA und Europa / Beijing verliert in Osteuropa an Boden // Reviews: Western ‘Othering’ of China / Global Views on China and US-China relations
- Newsletter May/June 2022CONTENT: Blog posts: Ukraine-Russland: Man schlägt den Sack, … // News: Verbale Eskalation // Countermovements: Controversial Chinese mining in Zimbabwe // Readings: Europa zwischen USA und China / China’s Overseas Development Programm
- Newsletter April 2022CONTENT: Blog posts: Ukraine-Russia: Those who are not with us … // News: Greenwashing the Junta in Myanmar / Go Game in the Pacific / China Pakistan Economic Corridor again top priority // Countermovements: Myanmar: Mining / Greece: Piräus / Pakistan: coal power plant // Readings: The complex relationship between China and India in light of Russia’s war in Ukraine / The Specter of Global China revisited.
- Ukraine-Russia: Those who are not with us ….For its answer to the war against Ukraine, the Western world is looking for partners all over the world. But after the unexpectedly widespread support in the United Nations for Russia’s condemnation, many countries of the Global South have since taken a rather more neutral attitude, because the escalation of the conflict goes against their own interests. There are signs of a new alliance emerging, which could benefit China in particular.
- Newsletter March 2022CONTENTS: Blog Posts: Europe’s Global Gateway / Russia-Ukraine: Can China do mediation? / Merry-go-round in South Asia // News: Rückzug aus russischem Gas – und China? / Überraschungsgast aus Beijing in Delhi // Protests: Kampagne gegen Erdöl aus Ostafrika / Bananen für China aus Kambodscha // Literature: Russo-Ukrainian War and China’s Choice
- Merry-go-round in South AsiaIn the last week of March, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on a whirlwind tour in South Asia, where the relations of several countries with Beijing, and thus the geopolitical constellations, seem to be shifting. After talks in Pakistan, where a serious political crisis is darkening the future of a Belt & Road flagship, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC, and a fly-by in Kabul, which has already been interpreted as a first step towards recognising the Taliban government, he made a visit to Nepal after a sensational detour into India.
- Europe’s Global Gateway: To Where?In contrast to the widespread scepticism at the beginning (see Newsletter December 2021), Harry Seavey, in his article published by Panda Paw Dragon Claw, argues that there is a chance that Europe’s own infrastructure initiative can become a serious competitor or addition to Belt&Road. For this to happen, however, a similarly attractive narrative would have to be framed to counter “resentments over Europe’s colonial legacy and history of grand plans that have proven to be ‚wishful thinking’“.
- Russia-Ukraine: Can China do mediation?Global geopolitics, especially the conflict between China and the USA, plays a central role in the future of the war against Ukraine: For many observers, Beijing could play a key role in a negotiated solution. The attempt to square the circle of distancing itself from Putin’s war, but not letting Russia go under could be helpful. However, a further intensification of the confrontation with the USA in Asia would stand in the way here.
- Newsletter February 2022CONTENTS: Posts: Going out responsibly / Empire building with DCS? / China imperial? / Ukraine: Wenn Russland und China zusamm’ marschier’n … // News: Green BRI with Nuclear Power / Nepal: An offer, that can’t be declined // NEW: Protests against Belt&Road: Hun Sens Airport in Cambodia / Conflicts in Peru’s copper mining // Reviews: A New Development Paradigm in the Making?
- Going Out ResponsiblyAs Chinese companies go global, allegations of social and environmental violations related to their activities overseas have surged in number alongside China’s expanding economic footprint and influence across continents and sectors. A recently published report analysed publicly recorded allegations of human rights abuses linked to overseas Chinese business operations between 2013 and 2020.
- Empire Building with DCS?In the West, China is currently seen as an important driving force behind the global economic recovery after the Corona crisis. But can it continue to fulfil this role – or is “the future of globalisation with China at stake”, according to the European Chamber of Commerce in China? The background to this apprehensive question is the “new economic model” that state and party leader Xi Jinping announced in May 2020, the ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’, DCS.
- Newsletter January 2022CONTENT: Posts: Power struggles in Kazakhstan: Putting out the fuse / Military coup in Myanmar 1: Triple Catch-22 for Beijing / The „Digital Silk Road“ in Central Asia (Guest post) // News: China’s Foreign Minister as a fire fighter / Military coup in Myanmar 2: Foreign investments // Reviews: ‚Less brown’: Two reports on Green BRI Investment.
- Triple Catch-22 with MyanmarOne year after the coup in Myanmar, the brutality of the military regime is growing, but so is armed resistance. And civilian protests are also still going on. For Beijing, the situation is becoming increasingly uncomfortable: comments and assessments on the anniversary show that the Gordian knot has, if anything, become even more tangled.
- The “Digital Silk Road” in Central AsiaIn 2015, the People’s Republic of China proposed the so-called “Digital Silk Road” initiative (DSR) in 2015. The scale of Chinese investment is testament to the government’s immense interest in the project. According to data gathered by the International Institute of Strategic Studies, China is currently participating in digital infrastructure projects in around 80 countries, and has already invested some 79 billion US dollars in DSR schemes worldwide.
- Kazakhstan: Putting out the fuseThe situation in Kazakhstan these days is rather obscure: Popular discontent and/or prelude to a ‘colour revolution’ and/or “foreign terrorists” and/or internal coup and/or ….? One thing, however, is clear: After Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and other countries, they show once again how vulnerable China is. And the fossil economy plays a key role: Oil and gas remain explosive.
- Newsletter December 2021CONTENTS: Posts: ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’: China’s „new development model“ / Numbers mystique at ChinAfrica Forum // News: Europe’ response to Belt&Road: ‘Global Gateway’ / 20th Anniversary of China’s accession to the World Trade Organisation / Debt debate: Highway to Disinformation? / Frigate ‚Bayern’ demonstrates to Beijing where the hammer is hanging // Readings: Changes in Beijing’s economic involvement: Adaptation and Agency.
- Numbers mystique at ChinAfrica ForumIf the ‘8th Forum on China Africa Cooperation’ at the end of November was an indicator of the intensified competition between the United States, Europe and China for Africa, Beijing kept a fairly low profile. The limited media attention given to the meeting, which was scheduled only at the ministerial level, gives the impression that most observers wanted to quickly and graciously spread the cloak of silence over FOCAC8 and its results.
- China’s „new development model“With the ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’ (DCS), the government in Beijing has once again thrown a stone into the water to test the effects of the announcement. However, after a few critical articles, the international discussion has remained surprisingly quiet. Yet the deliberations could have far-reaching implications for further globalization and China’s leading role in it.
- Newsletter November 2021CONTENTS: Posts: Beijing reports boom in foreign trade / Konflikte um das Südchinesische Meer // News: Courting the Bride Africa / Under Observation by the Regional Rival / Kämpfe entlang der Seidenstraßen / Webinar: China and the World // Reviews: Patrick Bond, China’s Role in Africa’s Development / Zeitschrift ‘Wissenschaft und Frieden’: Chinas Welt? – Konflikte und Kooperation.
- Beijing reports boom in foreign tradeChina’s authorities report soaring foreign trade figures, despite of the on-going Corona pandemic. A further shift towards the BRI countries is emerging, a trend that plays into the narrative of the ‘Dual Circulation Strategy’ announced this summer. This “new development model” intends, on the one hand, to further enhance the internal economy, while ‘external circulation’ refers to further integration into the global economy through foreign trade and investments.
- Newsletter October 2021CONTENTS: Posts: Coal Phase-out top down / Kohleausstieg ‘par ordre de mufti’ // News: ASEAN’s emergent key role / China and Europe: Cooperation in Africa / „Global Gateway“ – Europe’s connectivity competition / Update: Compensation for “no more coal-fired plants abroad” // Readings: How ‘multilateral’ is the AIIB? / Global Perspectives on China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Coal phase-out ‘par ordre de mufti’President Xi Jinping’s announcement at the UN General Assembly in September that China will not build any new coal-fired power plants abroad in the future has given the international climate community new hope for an accelerated reduction of CO2 emissions worldwide, like the mirage of an oasis to the thirsty wanderers in the Sahara. For a real energy transition in the countries of the Global South, however, this is only one – albeit important – piece of the puzzle.
- Newsletter September 2021CONTENTS: Blogs: Xi Jinping: “No new coal power abroad” (Guest post by Tom Baxter) / Newsletter August 2021 // News: Myanmar: Moving closer to the military regime // Readings: Debt debate: Digging into a ‘Black Hole’.
- “No new coal power abroad”Advocates have been doing everything they can for years to stop the construction of new coal power plants. Xi Jinping’s announcement could bring an end to China’s position as the world’s largest and last major public financial backer and builder of coal fired power plants overseas.
- Newsletter August 2021CONTENTS: Blog post: Risks of labour unrest // News: „Greening“ Belt & Road / Beijings human rights offensive // Readings: Overseas investments and human rights / Public perceptions of BRI and sustainability.
- The risk of workers’ unrest“Who built the seven-gated Thebes?” asks Bertold Brecht’s ‘reading worker’, “in the books are the names of kings.” In the case of the Silk Roads, Chinese workers are at least mentioned, but in most cases with the comment that they were displacing local workers. Labour conditions and trade union rights, on the other hand, feature hardly at all in the debates on Chinese projects and companies. But here there are risks that could jeopardise the whole BRI venture.
- Newsletter July 2021CONTENTS: Posts: Options for Beijing in Afghanistan: ‚From free rider to engine driver?’ / Guest post by Ying Wang on Chinese NGOs ‚Going global’ / Blog roll: The People’s Map of Global China / Workers Struggles along the New Silk Roads (in German) / News: Who Funds Overseas Coal Plants // Readings: The Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Conflict States.
- International Endeavours of Chinese NGOsThe international exposure of Chinese NGOs is not a recent phenomenon. Starting in the late 1970s, China reopened its doors to INGOs and other international organisations, which have since supported the development of a large number of Chinese NGOs. What is new today is that we are starting to see Chinese NGOs branching out of China and acting as donors and partners to organisations in developing countries. However, there remain several key challenges.
- From free rider to engine driver?The pull-out of their armed forces by the U.S. and other NATO allies, the escalation of violence, and the spectre of Taliban rule have triggered a flurry of diplomatic activity by neighbouring countries, including India, Pakistan and Iran, Russia and China. Fuelling just as much speculation is how the new situation might unfold. After all, the withdrawal will make the country an epicentre for regional power struggles.
- Newsletter June 2021CONTENTS: Blog post: ‘Build Back Better World’, the US-copy of BRI / News: European bailout for Montenegro / Call for boycott of Myanmar’s jade industry // Readings: Chinese Foreign Direct Investment in Europe in 2020 / Chinas technological influence in Southeast Asia through the Digital Silk Road / Environmental Authoritarianism: Review of ‘China goes green’ by Yifei Li and Judith Shapiro.
- B3W: New Highway to HeavenThe label for the multilateral copy of China’s New Silk Roads recently announced at the G7 summit by U.S. President Biden is gruesome: Build Back Better World, or B3W. As a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” it is to compete with China’s infrastructure activities. So far, however, B3W is merely an anaemic PR product.
- Newsletter May 2021CONTENTS: Blog posts: Europe’s geopolitical ghost ride in the Indo-Pacific / “Debt diplomacy” as a popular refrain in the intensifying debate about China’s economic and political expansion // Readings: A new book on ‘how a former socialist country rescues world capitalism’ / Jonathan Hillman, ‘The Emperor’s New Road’ / Study on ‘social risks to sustainable development’ in China’s BRI.
- My borrowers, your borrowersThe narrative of Chinese “debt diplomacy” is rather simplistic: Lending by state-owned banks is not transparent, encourages corruption, and serves primarily Chinese corporations, it goes. This would lead inevitably into a debt trap. It appears as if Beijing’s policy is fundamentally different from the practices of international financial institutions, governments of Western industrialized countries or large commercial banks.
- Indo-Pacific: Europe’s geopolitical ghost rideIt may sound like a matter of routine: The German frigate ‘Bayern’ is about to set sail and spend several months cruising in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. The Defense Ministry merely wants to see this just as a “sign” to fly the flag where Germany’s “values and interests are affected”. However, behind this there is a fundamental paradigm shift.
- Myanmar: Beijing in a fixAfter the ouster of the elected government in Myanmar on February 1 of this year, the Peking government finds itself sitting on the fence: Between the army, the Civil Disobedience Movement CDM, Aung San Suu Kyi’s NLD and her elected government, and the international opinion. This is why for some observers it is “not happy with the coup”.
- Militarization: Adventure Trip to the PacificThe deployment of the frigate ‚Bayern’ to a cruise in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific in summer this year is intended to lend substance to the “Guidelines on the Indo-Pacific” adopted by the German government last September and to the pronouncements of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister of Defense, that it “will expand its commitment to security policy to the Indo-Pacific”.
- Pakistan: Fraternal controversy„China and Pakistan fall out over Belt and Road frameworks,” trumpeted the Japanese business publication Nikkei Asia on January 19. There is no secret about the exasperation, even alarm, regarding what President Xi Jinping once called “brotherly” Sino-Pakistani cooperation in general and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project in particular. This probably raised some hopeful expectations in New Delhi.
- Myanmar: Construction Sites off the Silk RoadWhen China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Myanmar in January this year, he combined the announcement of vaccine supplies with offers of deepened economic cooperation. The timing of the visit was astute, coming after the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD, was re-elected for a second term in November 2020 – and two weeks before the military coup.
- Ethiopia: Bridgehead at RiskEthiopia has become one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies. The rail link between Djibouti on the Red Sea and Addis Ababa, built with Chinese credit and by Chinese companies, provides the landlocked country with a connection to the ‚Maritime Silk Road’. An escalation of the civil war, which broke out in Ethiopia’s Tigray Province in early November, would be damaging to Beijing’s plans for Africa.
- Chinese OverseasOne of the prevalent complaints about the Belt&Road Initiative is that Chinese labour would provide the bulk of the workforce in many projects. This applies mainly to large construction projects, rather than to factories such as those in Ethiopia’s Special Economic Zones. But these claims, which have also translated into tangible protests as in Laos, Vietnam and Turkmenistan, are major scratches on the image of Silk Road projects and their promises of prosperity.
- Review: In the Dragon’s ShadowHardly anyone outside Asia and academic circles is really looking at Southeast Asia – except just now, when the world’s largest free trade zone was agreed with RCEP. But this is a passing interest that is also mainly focused on the question: What does this mean for China, what games is Beijing playing? And in Europe it raises the anxious expectations: What does this mean for our economy, our companies, our exports?
- RCEP: „Blood, Sweat, and Tears“When fifteen Asia-Pacific countries signed the free trade agreement RCEP in Mid-November it was an event with exceptional dimensions: It creates an economic zone with a population of 2.2 billion people and around one third of the world’s economic output. There are three of Asia’s four leading economies – China, Japan and South Korea – first time together involved.
- Supply chains: Competition with China as an excuseChina violates fundamental human rights in its global supply chains and tolerates environmental devastation. That is true. But this should not be an excuse for Western companies and governments to distract attention from their own shortcomings. It would be better to actively involve China in the formulation of comprehensive standards. China has already made progress in the area of environment, in particular.
- China’s soft bellyAt home, China’s President Xi Jinping may be the big man. Under his leadership, the government and the Central Committee seem to have the internal factions in the Chinese Communist Party and self-willed provincial governors, public resentment and the various economic problems more or less under their control. But there can be no denying that Corona has also rocked China.
- Coronavirus infects Belt&Road tooIn mid-March 2020, China’s President Xi Jinping used the delivery of medical equipment and the dispatch of doctors to Italy to bring the close cooperation on a “Silk Road of Health” agreed with the World Health Organization (WHO) three years earlier into the media spotlight. . Beijing is in need of positive news, as the Covid-19 crisis is being used by US President Donald Trump and others to undermine China’s international reputation.
- Protests in Kyrgyzstan and the Silk RoadsKyrgyzstan is not exactly an outstanding pillar of the Belt&Road Initiative. But the current political disputes in the Central Asian country, triggered by the rebellion against the outcome of the parliamentary elections on October 4, 2020, cast a spotlight on how vulnerable China’s prestigious BRI project is.
- China’s Chernobyl?The Corona crisis may well be “China’s Chernobyl”, suggested a columnist in the journal ‘The Diplomat’. Will China face a similar fate as the Soviet Union did five years after the nuclear disaster in the Ukraine? The Corona crisis is a serious challenge for the Beijing government. It is jeopardising its ambitions to transform the People’s Republic into a full-fledged world power by 2049, the 100th anniversary of its founding.
- The Role of the State in China’s Belt and Road InitiativeIt is not unusual that in huge infrastructure projects the state plays a crucial role in framing and implementation, often in varying forms of cooperation with private companies. Because of its distinctive regime character and relation with Chinese enterprises, the role that the Chinese state plays in the implementation of the ambitious infrastructure initiative BRI seems to be clearly different from similar initiatives.
Born in 1949, studied in Bonn and Munich. PhD in political science at the Gesamthochschule Kassel. Since the early 1980s working mainly as a freelance journalist for print media and radio, author of several books and policy analyst for development organizations. Extended stays abroad in Iran (1978), India (1979-1982), and Kenya (1988-1990) as East Africa correspondent for German newspapers and radio. Research trips in South Asia and Southeast Asia, to China, Mongolia and Papua New Guinea, in Eastern Africa and in Southern Africa. Reporting on several UN conferences, from UNCED 1992 in Rio de Janeiro to FAO World Summit on Food Security in 2009, as well as on World Water Forum (2006 and 2012). Longstanding editorial member of the journal Peripherie, editor of the Information Website ‘Globe-spotting‘:
This website is a mirror of my work in the past years. It covers articles, features and analytical papers covering a wide range of topics, countries and problems (see Publications), with some issues coming up frequently:
+ agriculture, and especially the debates around a New Green Revolution in Africa,
+ water issues, in particular privatisation policies promoted by institutions like the World Bank,
+ food and agriculture in China, and
+ ‘Fish & ribs‘: developments in the livestock industries and fisheries.
My book “Der Lange Marsch 2.0. Chinas Neue Seidenstraßen als Entwicklungsmodell”, published in summer 2018 (VSA-Verlag), provides an introduction to the complex and controversial discussions about the strategies China’s government is pursuing with BRI and beyond. An updated English translation is now also available (“China’s Long March 2.0”).
Belt and Road Blog Newsletter
Die Website Belt and Road Portal wird redaktionell betreut von der staatlichen chinesischen Nachrichtenagentur Xinhua. Sie vermittelt nicht nur einen Einblick in das regierungsoffizielle Selbstverständnis, sondern auch Informationen, bei denen man allerdings bedenken sollte, dass sie Belt&Road „gut erzählen“ sollen.
Das frühere Overseas Development Institute (ODI), das sich inzwischen zur Beratungsinstitution ODI gewandelt hat, liefert nach eigener Aussage „Einblicke und Analysen zu Chinas geoökonomischer Strategie und Politik“. Im Zentrum dabei stehen der ‘globale Fußabdruck’ durch die Belt and Road Initiative, ihre Auswirkungen auf Entwicklung durch Handel und Investitionen, Beijings Rolle bei bilateraler und multilateraler Finanzierung und Chinas Modernisierung und geopolitische Ambitionen.
Arbeitskämpfe entlang der Seidenstraßen
Forum Arbeitswelten: Chinesische Investitionen, Konflikte um Lohnzahlungen, Arbeits- und Umweltstandards und geopolitische Interessen.
Mapping of Global China
The People’s Map of China: “An attempt to trace Global China reflecting the experiences of the people most affected by its emergence. It tracks China’s international activities by engaging an equally global civil society. Using an online ‘map’ format, we collaborate with nongovernmental organisations, journalists, trade unions, academics, and the public at large to provide updated and updatable information on various dimensions of Global China in their localities.”
Chance und Herausforderung
RLS-Dossier: Die Neuen Seidenstraßen: “Mit der «Belt and Road Initiative» verfolgt China ambitionierte Pläne – in Asien und darüber hinaus. Als Wirtschaftsmacht längst etabliert, profiliert sich das Land entlang der Neuen Seidenstraßen auch als (entwicklungs-)politischer Akteur. Viele sprechen bereits von einer alternativen Ära der Globalisierung. Der Westen sieht das gleichwohl skeptisch. Fakt ist: Das Verhältnis zu China bestimmt Debatten und politisches Handeln weltweit. Grund genug, genauer hinzuschauen und nach Chancen und Risiken zu fragen.” Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung
BRI: Deal or Steal?
Global Voices: “While the Belt and Road Initiative plays out across all continents, local societies and communities hold differing perceptions of its benefits and potential harms. Working with local researchers and writers in a dozen countries, we explore the ways China advances narratives that bolster its drive for global power, and how local perspectives either support or counter China’s ambitions.”
Belt and Road Podcast
The Belt and Road Podcast: “A podcast that covers the latest news, research and analysis of China’s growing presence in the developing world.”
Opportunities and risks
RLS Dossier: The New Silk Roads: “Long-established as an economic powerhouse, the country along these New Silk Roads is also making a name for itself as a player in development policy. Many observers are already speaking of an alternative era of globalization. The West, however, remains skeptical. Reason enough to take a closer look at both the opportunities as well as the risks.”
Silk Road Headlines
Die Silk Road Headlines sind zwar kein Blog im engeren Sinne, aber die wöchentliche Zusammenstellung des Clingendael Institute (Niederlande) von Artikeln und Studien, die überwiegend frei zugänglich sind, ist eine gute Informationsquelle.
Indian Eye on China
Eye on China is a weekly newsletter published by the Takshashila Institution, a public policy think-tank based out of Bengaluru, India, This newsletter is compiled by, and brings together contributions by researchers at the Indo-Pacific Studies Programme at the Takshashila Institution, covering not only India-China Relations, but also developments in economy and technology, military developments in China, foreign policy and Chinese domestic policics, analysing Chinese sources.