Skip to content

China Has Suffered Heavy Setbacks on Two Lines of the “Belt and Road” and Attempts to Find an Eastward Way

On May 04, 2022, Epoch Times reported that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dealt a serious setback to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) “Belt and Road,” a $4 trillion global strategic plan that it has implemented for nearly a decade. As the CCP is reluctant to condemn Russia, opposes sanctions against Russia, and cooperates with Russia with “No Limit,” the differences between the CCP and the Western free world in terms of values and between democracy and totalitarianism have been further exposed. The West’s distrust of the CCP has thus deepened, causing the West to drift further  away from China. Also, the future of China-EU trade is not optimistic. This has forced the CCP to look eastward.

The frequency and volume of “China-Europe Railway Express” have plummeted 

The “Belt and Road” mainly transports Chinese goods to Europe through the “China-Europe Railway Express (CERE)” via Russia, Belarus and Poland, which runs more than 98 percent of the China-Europe Railway Express. Since European customers are resisting the Russian invasion, many European companies do not want their products to be transported through Russian territory and have basically terminated the CERE via Russia. The frequency and volume of the CERE have dropped significantly and the flow of railroad cargo has decreased by 30 percent and, in some instances, even as much as 50 percent.

Therefore, in the short term, China must switch from rail transport to sea transport, or bypass Russia-Belarus and take the route through  the Caspian Sea and Turkey. This route, however, is immature and has limited transportation capacity, long cycle times and high prices.

The “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” has serious security risks

The Southern route of the “Belt and Road” is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It goes through Pakistan to the southwestern port of Gwadar, that is under construction. Its eventual use is still pending. Much worse is that there are serious security concerns.

The fishermen of Gwadar port account for more than 70 percent of the local population and large Chinese trawlers have occupied the fishing areas of the locals and robbed the local fishermen of their jobs. The economic prosperity promised by the “China-Pakistan Economic Corridor” has not materialized and people have become poorer. The local ethnic independent armed group, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), opposes any Chinese investment. Since November 15 last year, thousands of local people have launched a series of protests. Chinese citizens have become the targets of suicide bombings by the BLA. For example, on April 26, a suicide bombing attack against the Chinese occurred in Karachi, a city in southern Pakistan, killing three Chinese nationals. It was the work of the BLA.

The CCP tries to find a way to the east 

On April 21, in a video speech at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2022, the CCP’s General Secretory Xi Jinping reported that it was China’s intention to work actively to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and join the Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA). Shortly after the speech, China signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific.

Katsuji Nakazawa, former China bureau chief for Nikkei Asia, determined that “China’s (the CCP’s) latest development in the Pacific is related to the stagnation of the ‘Belt and Road’ due to the Russia-Ukraine war. Its attempts to create a large-scale economic zone extending westward from Eurasia have been bogged down because of the Russian invasion and China (CCP) now has to look east.”

Related postings on Chinascope:
• Russia-Ukraine War Accelerates Deterioration of CCP’s “Belt and Road” Global Strategy – Chinascope

Epoch Times, May 4, 2022.