Turkeys Pivotal Role In China’s Belt & Road Initiative With Europe, Central Asia And The Middle East

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As one leaves the European Union and crosses into the near east and Turkey, countries involved here and all the way east to China become free of the national constraints sometimes caused by membership of the European Union and to national governments where deals done with China are on a decidedly bilateral basis. It remains a point of interest whether having the EU oversee Chinese infrastructure offers is perceived as a help or a hindrance when one compares the grand strategy of the Belt & Road Initiative in these countries to the EU’s rather more cautious approach.

Much of this is a political issue – are grand projects such as China’s Belt & Road Initiative better suited to autocratic nations rather than democracies? Such projects take decades to reach their end game. While Europe’s politicians can and are voted in and out of influence, meaning their positions on strategic development tends to veer towards the abstract, do autocracies tend to demonstrate more pragmatism?

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the latest news and analysis from China’s Belt and Road Initiative and beyond.

Opinion & Analysis

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New Start for Northern Macedonia, Name Change Promises Balkan Belt and Road

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The historic summit between Greece and Macedonia, involving a name change for modern times for the latter, is likely to renew Chinese interest in investing in the country and the Balkans as a whole.

The change of name – still to be ratified, but now well on the way – to “The Republic of Northern Macedonia – clears up territorial concerns Athens has had since the break up of Yugoslavia and the emergence of a new Macedonian country – possessing almost the same name as the northern Greek Province, which includes the strategic port of Thessaloniki. By describing itself as “Northern Macedonia”, the Skopje government recognizes there is no claim on more southern Hellenic lands. In doing so, it also potentially opens up Northern Macedonia as a country to a whole new era of trade and investment. That includes potential membership of the EU, now that Greece will no longer block such a move.

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After Trump, Putin and Xi – How the New World Trade Order Will Look in 2030

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The past few days and weeks have been fairly monumental in illustrating that a new world order and trade relationship pattern is emerging. While China and to some extent, Russia, have been carrying this out, albeit with soft power overtones with the emergence of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union, the United States has taken a rather more aggressive path in dismantling existing trade agreements and partnerships.

That Donald Trump has been seen to be so assertive should be no surprise, he is not a career politician, although he has taken a fairly low-key initial 12 months to meet and assess his global partners, the character and belligerence that has seen him survive six corporate bankruptcies has begun to emerge. Increasingly, his political speak has turned to business talk – everything is a “deal” and is negotiable.

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Mahatir Scraps KL-Singapore High Speed Rail Connection

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Malaysian Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad has scrapped the long-planned Kuala Lumpur to Singapore high speed rail, dashing China’s Belt and Road ambitions of a continuous high-speed rail connection from its Kunming Yunnan border province all the way down to Singapore.

In addition to seeing the rail project as an element of its southeast Asia connectivity agenda, China hoped to win the tender for its high-speed trains to run on the line. Tenders had not yet been signed for the rolling stock provider, while local firms had been selected to construct the rail line.

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the latest news, opinion, and analysis from the Belt and Road and beyond.

News, Opinion & Analysis

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Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Comes into Focus for EU as G7 Implodes

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While the United States, their President Donald Trump, and the fractious meetings with the G7 have been gathering all the headlines, a competing and increasingly influential organization was holding its summit in Qingdao this weekend. Both summits are notable for their polarity, the G7 could almost be renamed “the West” with the exception of Japan, while the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is very definitely “the East”.

However, similarities between the two organizations stop there. The G7 is primarily a trade bloc, and changes its nature on occasion – it has been previously known as the G6 and G8, depending on which countries were members. While Russia was expelled from the G8 grouping in 2014, it is still a member of the SCO.

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China’s Trade Intelligence Gathering Leaving EU Contractors Disadvantaged

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China’s massive diplomatic global push may well be paying dividends as intelligence gathered is recorded, processed, and passed onto state owned businesses to profit from. An example is the situation in Poland, where China has been taking a keen interest.

The country is the largest European member of the Cooperation of China and Central Eastern European Countries (CEEC, or 16+1) and is also an investor in the Beijing supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which despite the name is actually assessing projects throughout Eurasia. China is especially interested in Poland for two reasons: the country is a gateway to the markets of the EU and is directly linked via rail to China. It also announced just two years back it’s Morawiecki Plan, also known as the Strategy for Responsible Development (SRD).

According to the plan, Poland is looking to invest more than 1,500 billion zloty (€370 billion) from public funds and about 600 billion zloty (€144 billion) from private sources in infrastructure and industry projects in the next two years to improve the country’s competitiveness internationally. When the plan was first presented, about 50 percent of this money was expected to come from the EU.

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“Here There Be Dragons” How Brussels is Losing Influence in Central and Eastern Europe

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The formation by several members of the European Union and China of the “Co-Operation of China and Central Eastern Europe” (CEEC or sometimes the 16+1) has raised alarm bells in Brussels over what they see as overtures by China to divide the EU bloc, possibly in tandem with interference by Moscow.

Brussels, already reeling from the Brexit vote, is coming under increasing stress. Finland has been the latest member to state that “any financial shortfall caused by the UK pull-out should not be passed onto other member states.” Italy is having a democratic roller-coaster as populist, anti-EU politicians are putting the squeeze on the establishment, while at the very same time Brussels is serving notice on the Balkans nations that “they are part of our family” without actually offering them membership.

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Silk Road Development Weekly

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All the latest news and views from along the Belt and Road and beyond.

Opinion & Analysis

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