On April 12, The Epoch Times Chinese edition published an article discussing the effect of the Russia-Ukraine War on China’s “Belt and Road” program.
It has been nearly seven weeks since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The war has seriously affected several key countries in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) “Belt and Road” purview and accelerated the deterioration of its $4 trillion global strategic plan that it has been implementing for nearly a decade.
The CCP’s General Secretary Xi Jinping proposed the “Belt and Road” initiative in 2013. It is a global strategy involving the economic penetration of other countries with the supplement of technological control. It has already extended to 149 countries and regions around the world. It consists of two parts. The first is the “Belt” part, which refers to the “Silk Road Economic Belt” which extends over the land through Central Asia, Central and Eastern Europe on into Western Europe. The second is the”Road” part, which refers to the “Maritime Silk Road” which runs through the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean, and then westward through Southeast Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, to Europe.
Although it is a key component of the CCP’s “Belt and Road” into Europe, Russia has become unable to serve as a key transit point for Chinese containers into Europe due to the comprehensive sanctions imposed by the U.S., Europe and other Western countries. Ukraine has an excellent geographical position as it is located in the center of Europe. It is an essential route for the CCP to promote its “Belt and Road” to European countries. Ukraine also is an important source of energy, food, military equipment and technology for China. Currently the War is having a “tearing” effect on Ukraine. Other countries along the” Belt and Road,” such as Belarus, Poland and Romania, have also been greatly affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war. Belarus has been subjected to a number of collateral sanctions for siding with Russia in this war.
Russia-Ukraine War Forces China-European Liner to Divert
The China-European Liner is an important route for overland cargo between China and Europe, with three routes running through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Poland to enter Europe. China’s official media Economic Daily reported on March 31 that the Sino-European train has been greatly affected by the war between Russia and Ukraine. Following sanctions and embargoes imposed by the U.S. and the West on Russia (and sometimes on transports to Belarus), China-Europe trains have had to adjust their routes to avoid Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The trains that return to China from those places face the problem of empty containers in the medium to long term. In addition, the removal of Russian banks from the international settlement system SWIFT has led to difficulties in settling trade with Russia.
The CCP’s poor performance in the Russia-Ukraine war, which clearly favors the Russian side, has made Ukraine and other Central and Eastern European countries have a clear understanding of the CCP, and that may cause Ukraine to refuse to be a pawn of the “Belt and Road” after the war. Other European countries are also likely to reconsider their cooperation with the CCP and to be wary of its infiltration. Therefore, the CCP’s “the Belt and Road” will meet its Waterloo in Central and Eastern European countries.
Sri Lanka, the hub of “One Road” is in a serious economic and political crisis
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka, a key hub of “One Road” of the CCP’s “all the way” maritime route, is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948 and exacerbated by the Russian-Ukrainian war that hit the country’s tourism and tea export industries, which depend on Russia and Ukraine. World Bank data shows that Sri Lanka has a total of 35 billion U.S. dollars in foreign debt, of which China holds about 6 billion U.S. Dollars and is Sri Lanka’s largest creditor.
Sri Lanka’s economic crisis began with the CCP’s ” Belt and Road” debt trap, in which Chinese companies build infrastructure such as ports, airports and railroads by raising a substantial debt to China. To settle the massive debt, in 2017 Sri Lanka was forced to lease the strategically important Hambantota Port in the Indian Ocean to China for 99 years at a cost of $1.1 billion. Lately the country’s economic crisis has turned further into a political crisis.
“Belt and Road” obstructed in the two first initiative countries
Indonesia, the first country to initiate the CCP’s “Maritime Silk Road,” usually emphasizes neutrality and non-alignment. In recent years, however, Indonesia has begun to feel threatened by the CCP’s expansion and increased influence in the South China Sea and Southeast Asia. Indonesia has also suffered greatly from the CCP’s “Belt and Road” project. Its 142-kilometer high-speed rail project from Jakarta to Bandung, which is being built by a CCP state-owned company, has not only been delayed significantly, but it is also is facing a $2.47 billion cost overrun.
Kazakhstan, the first country to initiate the “Belt and Road” on land, is a key hub for the China-Europe Classical Train, a key land route for China-Europe trade. Earlier this year, there has been social unrest in Kazakhstan. Recently, it is facing continued price increases for wheat and flour due to drought and to Russia’s suspension of grain exports to it. A food crisis could spark discontent among the local population.
Source: Epoch Times, “Russia-Ukraine War Accelerates Deterioration of CCP’s Belt and Road Global Strategy,” April 12, 2022.