The European Commission has become increasingly critical of various Chinese investments within the EU, fueling an ongoing debate within Europe about investment screening. While the EU released a framework for foreign investment screening implicitly aimed at China in November 2018, the debate has exposed cross-cutting divisions within Europe. Looking ahead to 2019, we should not expect a clear resolution anytime soon.
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China’s Belt and Road is commonly visualized as a train carrying commerce across Eurasia. But a train does not adequately capture BRI’s significance or scope. Instead, a Chinese flag is a better representation. Whether it is China’s intention or not, the increasing connectivity the BRI brings comes hand in hand with exposure to Chinese culture.
A special report by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker which leverages data from the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project has found that China’s Belt and Road initiative holds considerable promise for countries in need of infrastructure investment along its route, however, participation has been hampered by challenges ranging from a lack of participation by local workers and banks to unmanageable debt hangovers.
Reconnecting Asia is tracking developments across a vast landmass that includes 60 percent of the global economy. Every day, new infrastructure projects are announced, some are advanced, and others encounter obstacles. Here is a selection of the top projects to watch in 2018.
Thirty years ago, when I travelled from Budapest to Pécs, a major cultural city in southwest Hungary, the journey took 3.5 hours by train. I took the same train ride recently, and it still took 3.5 hours. It is a sad example of the travel conditions between the major cities in Hungary, as well as in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) more generally. Much has happened in thirty years: the end of the Cold War, the enlargement of the European Union, and many rapid developments outside of Europe. Yet Eastern Europe’s transportation infrastructure remains essentially unchanged.