Interview 16 Jun 17

China’s ‘New Silk Road’ Poses Questions for Balkans

China's ambitious ‘Belt and Road’ initiative could deliver much-needed investments and infrastructure improvements to the Balkans, but it could also bring environmentally-harmful industrial projects, expert Guido Broekhoven told BIRN.

Mariya Cheresheva
BIRN
Sofia
Guido Broekhoven. Photo: WWF Bulgaria

"The Belt and Road Initiative offers both challenges and opportunities [for the Balkans]," Guido Broekhoven, regional manager for China-Africa Trade in the Brussels office of the Word Wildlife Fund, WWF, a leading global wildlife conservation and endangered species organisation, told BIRN in an interview.

He was referring to the ambitious initiative that is often referred to as the ‘New Silk Road’, which Chinese President Xi Jinping announced in 2013. Belt and Road aims to expand Beijing’s international influence and trade abroad in order to compensate for the slowdown in economic growth at home.

At the heart of the plan is a modern transport, trade and economic corridor running from Shanghai to Berlin, via Eastern and Central Europe, running alongside the ‘Maritime Silk Road’, a sea route connecting China, South-East Asia, Oceania and North Africa.

A Chinese project under the same umbrella, the 16+1 initiative, seeks to improve trade and economic ties with 16 countries in Central and Eastern Europe: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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