Perceptions of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and responses to it in Europe and Asia
On 29 – 30 March, the 2nd seminar as part of our EU co-funded project “Preparing the ETF for Global Changes” with the Central European Institute of Asian Studies (CEIAS) presenting on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
There was considerable interest from the participants in discovering diverse ways political decision-makers, different national authorities and companies, media and even the general public reacted to the Chinese presence and its growing influence in Europe and Asia, especially considering China was recognized as a strategic competitor by the European Union in 2019.
The focus of this seminar, held in Prague as well as online, was on China’s specific interest in Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), or so-called the 16+1 initiative. In the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, Chinese investments in the transport sector still represent a sensitive topic. Specific case studies of Chinese investment projects were presented, such as the Budapest – Belgrade – Piraeus high-speed railway. Additionally, the Łódź – Chengdu railway connection was discussed by CEIAS, which proved particularly interesting considering the intervention of Peter Kiss, CEO of METRANS, who also shared the perspective of METRANS on the challenges and opportunities of BRI and FDI in general for the rail freight companies.
Olaf Merk, Administrator Ports and Shipping, International Transport Forum (ITF) at OECD presented the situation of Chinese presence and future influence in ports. Zeno D’Agostino, the President of Trieste Port Authority, gave a case study example of the effects of Chinese investment under the Sild Road Initiative. Andrea Eck, Member of the Executive Board, BLG LOGISTICS GROUP, explained the expected impact and direct and immediate effects of BRI on the European seaport and logistics operation.