Skip to main content

Belt and Road Monitor: Top Developments

Source: RWR Advisory Group

 🏹 Top Developments 

 ✔  Zijin Mining’s Serbian Copper Smelter Suspended, Firm Sued by Mayor
On September 26, Zijin Mining’s RTB Bor copper smelter in Serbia was suspended over excessive sulfur dioxide emissions that caused weeks of air pollution. Recent protests against the pollution began on September 19, with residents of Bor taking to the streets to voice their anger over the emissions. Bor mayor Aleksandar Milikić filed criminal charges against Zijin Mining on September 14 for the pollution. The company claimed that the reason for emissions was equipment failure, and that it would inspect the relevant equipment to solve the issue. The smelter is planned to be overhauled by December 2022. 

 ✔  Germany Reportedly Imposing Restrictions on Huawei Involvement in 5G
On September 29, German business newspaper Handelsblatt stated that the German government would reportedly be severely restricting the use of Huawei equipment in its 5G network, although they would not institute an outright ban. Huawei products will be subject to technical and political tests. The restrictions would be similar to earlier decisions by European governments on Huawei’s involvement in their 5G networks, such as by the UK and France. The German government has yet to make an official statement on the decision. 

✔  Australian Opposition Calls for Probe into CRRC Changchun’s Melbourne Train Contract
On October 5, the Australian opposition public transport spokesman David Davis asked the Auditor-General and Victoria’s anti-corruption agency Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission to probe a $2.3 billion contract, signed with a consortium including CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles in 2016, to build 65 electric trains for Melbourne’s rail network. The delivery of the trains is currently 18 months late, and there is no completion date for the rail network. Davis also called into question the probity of the contracted firms, citing the US Department of Defense’s flagging of CRRC as a potential security threat, CRRC’s known use of Uighur labor, and potential government connections to consortium member, Downer EDI. 

✔  Jingye Group Considering Buying UK’s Tata Steel 
On October 5, multiple sources stated that Chinese conglomerate Jingye Group was considering acquiring Britain’s largest steel producer, Tata Steel UK. The acquisition would mark further consolidation of Chinese control over Britain’s steel industry, as in March 2020, Jingye purchased British Steel after the firm had entered the insolvency process in the spring of 2019. If the potential deal is formalized, Jingye would own the UK’s two largest steel plants, Port Talbot (currently under ownership of Tata Steel) and Scunthorpe steelworks (previously owned by British Steel). Jingye’s interest is reportedly tentative at this point, and British media has speculated that the deal would likely elicit political scrutiny. 

 ✔ Serbian President Warns Railway Contract Will Go to China If EU Grant Request Rejected
On October 6, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic asked the European Union for a grant covering 50 percent of the construction of the Belgrade-Nis high-speed railway, stating that if it were not provided, the contract would go to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CBRC). A memorandum of understanding between the Serbian government and CRBC for the railway modernization was signed in 2018. He stated that Chinese Ambassador to Serbia Chen Bo had agreed to expedite a loan from the Export-Import Bank of China for the project. The railroad is estimated to cost $2.3 billion. 

✔  Huawei to Deploy Telecom Sites in Rural Ghana
On September 29, Ghana’s Ministry of Communications and the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) signed an agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China to deploy 2,000 new telecom sites in rural areas of the country, with Huawei serving as the construction contractor. After completion, expected in September 2021, the new facilities will be leased to national operators. 

✔  Kenya’s Parliament Concludes SGR Loans from China Need to Be Renegotiated
On September 25, Kenya’s parliamentary transport committee released a report inquiry into the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC)-contracted Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, determining that the country should renegotiate the entire $4.5 billion loan framework due to the negative economic impact of COVID-19. Kenya owes railway operator China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), a subsidiary of CCCC, $380 million through its operating firm Africa Star and has failed to pay the monthly operating payment for 21 months. The railroad has yet to make a profit


Popular posts from this blog

Menon meets Karzai, discusses security of Indians

Kabul/New Delhi/Washington, March 5 (IANS) India Friday said that the Feb 26 terror attack in Kabul will not deter it from helping rebuild Afghanistan as National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul to review the security of around 4,000 Indians working in that country. Menon, who arrived here Friday morning on a two-day visit, discussed with Karzai some proposals to bolster security of Indians engaged in a wide array of reconstruction activities, ranging from building roads, bridges and power stations to social sector projects. The Indian government is contemplating a slew of steps to secure Indians in Afghanistan, including setting up protected venues where the Indians working on various reconstruction projects will be based. Deploying dedicated security personnel at places where Indians work is also being considered. Menon also met his Afghan counterpart Rangin Dadfar Spanta and enquired about the progress in the probe into the Kabul atta

Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth

Rethink before It’s Too Late Iran is losing the game to regional actors in its strategic depth –Afghanistan. By Houman Dolati It is no more a surprise to see Iran absent in Afghanistan affairs. Nowadays, the Bonn Conference and Iran’s contributions to Afghanistan look more like a fading memory. Iran, which had promised of loans and credit worth five-hundred million dollars for Afghanistan, and tried to serve a key role, more than many other countries, for reconstruction and stabilization of Afghanistan, is now trying to efface that memory, saying it is a wrong path, even for the international community. Iran’s empty seat in the Rome Conference was another step backward for Afghanistan’s influential neighbor. Many other countries were surprised with Iran’s absence. Finding out the vanity of its efforts to justify absence in Rome, Iran tried to start its

Pakistani firm whose chemicals were used to kill US troops seeks subsidy for Indiana plant

By Jennifer Griffin, Justin Fishel Published March 22, 2013   A Pakistani fertilizer maker whose chemicals have been used in 80 percent of the roadside bombs that have killed and maimed American troops in Afghanistan is now seeking U.S. taxpayer subsidies in order to open a factory in Indiana.  The request appears to be on hold pending further review, but the situation has stirred outrage in Congress, where some accuse the Pakistani government of halting efforts to clamp down on the bomb-making.  For the past seven years, the U.S. government has known that the raw material calcium ammonium nitrate, or CAN, is making its way across the border into Afghanistan where the Taliban use it to fuel their most deadly weapons, namely the improvised explosive device. IEDs have long been the number one killer of U.S. and coalition troops.  The material largely comes from Pakistani fertilizer maker the Fatima Group. But the Pakistani government has stymied attempts by the Pentagon to stop the