Daily Memo: China Tightens Its Belt and Road

The economic fallout from the pandemic has affected roughly half of China's BRI projects.

Beijing tightens its Belt and Road. China on Friday admitted that nearly a fifth of its BRI projects have been “seriously affected” by the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. According to a Chinese Foreign Ministry survey, another 30-40 percent of BRI projects have been “somewhat affected.” We have no idea what either of those descriptions means in reality. But it stands to reason that, between China’s need to focus its fiscal resources on domestic rescues and the financial fix that governments across the world are suddenly in, projects that were already commercially dubious are now prime candidates for the chopping block. Even before the pandemic, Beijing was forcing state-backed banks and firms involved in BRI projects to apply greater scrutiny to their investments. Partner countries were doing the same. On Friday, Pakistan announced that it was slashing its contribution to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – one of Beijing’s flagship BRI initiatives – by as much as a third. And a Pakistani Senate committee is demanding the release of details about an agreement between Beijing and Islamabad on the strategically lucrative Gwadar port project, which is at the center of speculation about Chinese naval ambitions in the Indian Ocean. It’s worth […]

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