Belt and Road projects: past, present and future
China’s Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping nearly six years ago, has made practical progress, with 125 countries and 29 international organisations having signed 173 co-operation agreements under the initiative framework as of 27 March.
Under the initiative’s five co-operation priorities of policy co-ordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people-to-people bonds, there is a batch of projects, such as transport construction and industrial infrastructure, in full swing or which have already yielded fruitful results.
Here are some of the amazing projects achieved worldwide under the initiative.
Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail, Indonesia
The 142km Jakarta-Bandung high-speed railway, connecting the Indonesian capital Jakarta with Bandung, is now under construction after China and Indonesia signed an agreement in October 2015 to establish a joint venture to build and operate it.
As a part of the Belt and Road Initiative projects in Indonesia, the high-speed railway is the first foreign line to use China’s high-speed railway standards, technologies and equipment.
It is being constructed and operated by a China-Indonesia consortium of companies led by China Railway Corp and the Indonesian state-owned PT Wijaya Karya Tbk, and is to be funded mainly by loans from China Development Bank.
The high-speed rail, the first of its kind in South-east Asia, will have a maximum design speed of 350 km/h and is capable of transporting passengers and goods within 45 minutes between Jakarta and Bandung.
Abuja-Kaduna railway, Nigeria
The Abuja-Kaduna railway, as the first segment of the Lagos-Kano standard-gauge project, the first standard gauge railway in Nigeria and West Africa, was officially inaugurated and started commercial operation on 26 July 2016.
The railway, constructed by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, is the first overseas railway fully adopting the Chinese railway standard. Covering 186.5km, it alleviates traffic pressures, improves the investment environment and promotes the co-ordinated development of regional economy and society.
By 11 January, the train service had carried 1.23 million passengers and had safely operated for 900 days without any major accident.
The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway, the first electrified line in East Africa built to Chinese standards and with Chinese equipment, officially commenced commercial operations in January 2018.
With a length of just over 750km, a design speed of 120km/h, 45 stations and total investment of about $4bn, the railway was jointly constructed by China Railway Group and China Railway Construction Corp and is the first with a full industrial chain that Chinese enterprises have built overseas.
The railway has reduced travel time from the Djibouti port to Addis Ababa to less than 12 hours from the previous three days.
The 414-km China-Laos Railway runs from Boten, the northern Lao town bordering the south-western Chinese province of Yunnan, to Vientiane, capital of Laos, with an operating speed of 160km/h.
The electrified passenger and cargo railway, on which construction started in December 2016 with the full application of Chinese management and technical standards, is scheduled to be completed and open to traffic in December 2021.
It is a strategic project aligning the Belt and Road Initiative and Laos’ strategy to convert from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.
Colombo Port City, Sri Lanka
The China-funded Colombo Port City, the largest project between China and Sri Lanka under the Belt and Road Initiative, completed land reclamation of 269 hectares (665 acres) in January.
In addition, hydro-structure construction will be completed by the middle of this year. The port city’s municipal facilities construction is expected to be completed in July 2020. At the same time, investment promotion of the city is also being carried out.
The $1.4bn project, co-developed by the Sri Lankan government and the China Communication Construction company, is expected to bring 83,000 jobs to locals in 20 years.
Piraeus Port, Greece
Piraeus is the largest port in Greece. On 10 August 2016, the Cosco Shipping (Hong Kong) company, a subsidiary of China Cosco Shipping Group, became a controlling shareholder of the port and started operating the facility.
Around €290m is expected to be invested by the company for the expansion of a cruise terminal, improvement of a ship repair wharf and a new multistorey garage at a roll-on roll-off ship wharf.
The port, as an important meeting point of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, has become one of the fastest-growing container ports in the world in recent years.
Under the joint operation of Chinese and Greek enterprises, the port’s infrastructure conditions and operational capabilities have been greatly improved. The freight hub has become increasingly prominent, not only providing more jobs but also promoting local economic development and becoming a model of win-win co-operation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
Doraleh multipurpose Port, Djibouti
The Doraleh multipurpose port in Djibouti, constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC) and partially owned and operated by DP World and China Merchants Holdings, opened on 24 May 2017.
The port, with a contract amount of $421.7m and a designed handling capacity of 7.08 million tonnes a year, is CSCEC’s first hydraulic project in Africa. All the port’s terminals have direct access to the Addis Ababa–Djibouti railway, which provides landlocked Ethiopia with access to the sea.
Zeebrugge terminal, Belgium
The Chinese Cosco Shipping signed an agreement with the Port of Zeebrugge on 22 January 2018 for a 50-year concession on the CSP Zeebrugge terminal.
As the second-largest port in Belgium, the Port of Zeebrugge is a natural deepwater harbour and has a good network of road and rail connections across Europe. It is expected to be the main northern European hub for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, with Piraeus Port in Greece the southern hub.
Muara Port, Brunei
Muara Port has the largest container terminal and is also the main international trade passage for Brunei. In February 2017, the container terminal of the port was handed over to the Muara Port Company Sdn Bhd, a joint venture established by China’s Beibu Gulf Port Group and Brunei’s Darussalam Asset.
Muara Port is the only public dock in Brunei and is an important part of the construction of the Guangxi-Brunei Economic Corridor. In the first 10 months of 2018, Muara Port handled 93,257 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units), a year-on-year increase of 7 per cent.
Gwadar port, Pakistan
From a small, remote and underdeveloped Pakistani fishing village on the Arabian Sea, Gwadar port now has a fully functional port terminal, a business centre and a free zone.
The port, which opened on 13 November 2016, has been operated by the China Overseas Port Holding Company (COPHC) since 2013. Gwadar port is a flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project under the Belt and Road Initiative.
According to the COPHC, dozens of companies in fields such as hotels, banking, logistics, food, steel, fish processing and renewable resources have entered the free zone.
Temburong Bridge, Brunei
The Temburong Bridge, the largest infrastructure project in Brunei’s history, will become the country’s longest sea-crossing bridge with a total length of about 30km. It is scheduled to open to traffic by the end of November this year.
The CC4 section of the bridge is constructed by China State Construction Engineering Corp. At around 11.6km of the 11.8km-long section will be a land viaduct traversing the mangrove swamp of the Labu Forest Reserve. The company has established a set of strict safety and green construction evaluation systems to meet the high demand for environmental protection and cope with the unprecedented difficulties of construction.
Peljesac Bridge, Croatia
One of the biggest infrastructure projects in Croatia’s history, the Peljesac Bridge is designed to link the mainland of Croatia with its southernmost Dubrovnik-Neretva county.
A Chinese consortium led by China Road and Bridge Corporation won the bid for the first phase of the Peljesac Bridge and its access roads in January 2018.
The project, whose estimated value is more than €400m ($485m), will be partially sponsored by European Union funds. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said in April the 2.4km-long, 55m-high bridge is highly rated by the Croatian people.
Padma Bridge, Bangladesh
The Padma Bridge, 25m wide and 10km long, will be built over the Padma, one of the three major rivers in Bangladesh.
In June 2016, the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group company was awarded a $1.55bn contract by the Bangladeshi government to build the core structure of the bridge.
The bridge is the country’s largest infrastructure project, as well as the largest foreign bridge project undertaken by Chinese companies in terms of total cost.
Once completed, travel time between the capital, Dhaka, and the southern city of Khulna will be shortened to about three hours from 13.
Punta Sierra wind farm, Chile
With 32 turbines by the sea, the Punta Sierra wind farm has been in operation since 4 February 2018.
It is the first Pacific Hydro wind farm in Chile and the first wind farm invested in by China in the South American country.
The $150m project, financed and constructed by the China State Power Investment Corporation, has an installed capacity of 82MW and will generate about 282GWh/year, which can meet the electricity demands for 130,000 households and reduce carbon emissions by 157,000 tonnes per year.
Yamal LNG project, Russia
Located in the Yamal Peninsula of the Russian Arctic, the Yamal liquefied natural gas project reached full production capacity with its three production lines, each of which has a capacity of 5.5 million tonne per year, with operations starting in December 2017, August 2018 and December 2018 successively.
The project is the world’s largest of its kind within the Arctic Circle and is also the first mega-energy co-operation project implemented in Russia after the Belt and Road Initiative was proposed.
It is owned by the Russian Novatek (50.1 per cent), the French Total (20 per cent), and the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (20 per cent) and Silk Road Fund (9.9 per cent).
Isimba hydropower station, Uganda
Construction of the Isimba hydropower station in Uganda was completed on 21 March. The project cost an estimated $568m, with 85 per cent coming from a concessional loan provided by the Export-Import Bank of China. Uganda provided the rest of the funding.
Built by China International Water & Electric Corp, the 183MW power plant is the third-largest power station in Uganda, increasing the country’s power generation capacity from 984MW to 1,167MW.
The power plant is intended to address a power shortage that experts say affects Uganda’s economic development. Construction started in 2015 and hired more than 3,000 workers, of whom 85 per cent were Ugandans.
Uyuni 350KTPA potash plant, Bolivia
The Uyuni 350KTPA Potash Plant in Bolivia, constructed by China CAMC Engineering, started operations on 7 October 2018. It is the third-largest potash plant in South America, and its completion marks the first time in the history of the Bolivian people that they have owned their own potash plant.
The project bid was successfully won in May 2015 by China CAMC Engineering for a total of 1.2bn bolivianos ($170m).
Industrial park project
China-Belarus Industrial Park, Belarus
The China-Belarus Industrial Park, located 25km from Minsk and covering an area of 91.5sq km, is the first special economic area in Belarus and the largest intergovernmental co-operation project between China and Belarus.
The industrial park is stepping up efforts to attract more global investors, with 43 companies registered by the end of February.
Among the 43 companies, 26 are from China, 10 from Belarus and seven from other countries, including the United States and Russia. The companies have signed agreements to make total investments of more than $1bn in the park.
Economic and trade co-operation zone
China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Co-operation Zone
The China-Egypt Suez Economic and Trade Co-operation Zone, located in the Ain Sokhna district of Suez province east of Cairo, has become a landmark project for China and Egypt’s co-operation under the Belt and Road Initiative.
The zone, on which construction started more than a decade ago, is operated by the China-Africa TEDA Investment company. It has attracted nearly 80 enterprises with investment of more than $1bn, directly offered jobs to more than 3,500 people and created 30,000 job opportunities through the industries gathered there.
In January 2016 the second phase of the zone, which covers an area of 6sq km, was inaugurated. By February this year, infrastructure construction for 2sq km of the second phase has finished, and eight industry-leading enterprises are already onboard with an investment of $200m.
International free trade zone
Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, Djibouti
The China-funded Djibouti International Free Trade Zone, on which construction started in January 2017, opened on 5 July 2018.
Covering an area of 48.2sq km, the zone is operated by a joint venture with investment by Chinese enterprises, including China Merchants Holdings and Dalian Port Corp as well as the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority.
More than 20 enterprises from the commerce, logistics and processing sectors have signed letters of intent to register with the zone, as infrastructure in the first phase, which covers an area of 6sq km, has been basically completed.
The FTZ is expected to become a crucial junction linking other African countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, and make Djibouti, the small country in north-east Africa, a marine logistics hub linking Africa, Asia and Europe.
Wang Zhuoqiong, Liu Kun, Zhou Lihua, Jiang Xueqing, Zhong Nan, Xinhua News Agency and People’s Daily contributed to this story.
This article was originally produced and published by China Daily. View the original article at chinadaily.com.cn