How Will COVID-19 Impact China's Belt & Road Initiative?

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By The China Africa Project. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Amid the worsening COVID-19 epidemic, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is facing its single greatest challenge since President Xi Jinping launch the BRI in 2013 when he promised countries around the world greater access to Chinese markets and capital. That interconnectedness was once widely regarded in Africa and elsewhere as a huge opportunity, but now as store shelves in Nairobi run bare, oil piles up on the docks at the Port of Luanda, and BRI-inspired construction projects across the continent have stalled, that dependence on China is seen as a potentially dangerous liability.

While stakeholders in countries throughout Africa, MENA and the Gulf regions are starting to call for a re-evaluation of their dependence on Chinese trade and financing, those questions may, in fact, be academic in the end because the reality is that there may not be a comparable alternative to China. The U.S., Japan and the EU remain difficult markets for developing countries to penetrate and none of these advanced economies are spending the kind of money on infrastructure development that Beijing is as part of the BRI.

So what’s next for China’s BRI in Africa, the Mideast and Mediterranean regions? Zayed University political science professor Jonathan Fulton closely follows the BRI from Abu Dhabi and is cautiously optimistic that once the COVID-19 outbreak stabilizes, China’s BRI partners in these various regions will go back to business as usual because, well, they have to.

Johnathan joins Eric & Cobus to talk about what impact he forecasts that COVID-19 will have on China’s once ambitious global trading agenda.

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Twitter: @eolander | @stadenesque | @jonathandfulton

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