Belt & Road Initiative Project Slowdown Over Chinese Migrant Worker Fears

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Belt & Road Initiative projects that Chinese SOE’s have been undertaking overseas are being held up or suspended due to the Coronavirus. Many include hundreds if not thousands of Chinese workers, the majority of whom had returned to China for the Lunar New Year festivities.

Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia have all closed their borders to China, meaning workers due to return to projects underway are unable to return to work. Other countries, such as Sri Lanka, are conducting tests on Chinese workers who remained in the country and are based in temporary dormitories. Entire workforces overseas, who have been exposed to early returnees from China are being quarantined.

Specific projects may have clauses in than identify completion dates and provide punishment clauses over delays. Force Majeure or “Act of God” clauses dealing with these eventualities will need to be looked at. Contracts that do not contain such clauses will require negotiating with the Chinese side to resolve any contractual or labor disputes caused by any slowdowns or suspension of works.

Our China legal team will be able to assist if needed, including assistance with negotiations and translations to mediate and resolve issues. Contact:

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Silk Road Briefing is written by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm provides strategic analysis, legal, tax and operational advisory services across Eurasia and has done since 1992. We maintain 28 offices throughout the region and assist foreign governments and MNC’s develop regional strategies in addition to foreign investment advice for investors throughout Asia. Please contact us at or visit us at


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