Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) France and China have agreed to cooperate on infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe, Africa and South Asia.
Proponents hope that the seven projects, worth more than 1.7 billion US dollars, covered by the new cooperative venture will improve transparency of China’s foreign investments, DW reported yesterday.
Earlier this month, France and China signed the Fourth Round China-France Third-Party Market Cooperation Pilot Project List after a virtual meeting between Presidents Emmanuel Macron and Xi Jinping.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the list includes infrastructure projects plus investments in energy and environmental protection.
According to a statement by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), “French enterprises have a unique advantage in advanced manufacturing, environmental protection and engineering construction, while Chinese firms have accumulated rich experience in basic infrastructure construction, energy, equipment building and the internet.”
The NDRC went on to say that enterprises “from both countries are complementary, and have a huge potential for third-party market cooperation.”
Cooperation under criticism
Critics have contended that Chinese investments in smaller countries tend to have corrosive effects, with some citing China’s strengthened ties with oligarchs in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, as examples of how Beijing managed to exert influence in government communication networks there.
After Serbia, Hungary has Eastern Europe’s highest share of investments from China and it is planning new projects. China has invested roughly 5 billion dollars in Hungary, mostly through the Huawei technology corporation and the Bank of China.
China also has significant ties with Poland, especially in railway transport since Poland is an important transit country for Chinese railway cargo transport.
Morover, Bulgaria and China signed a strategic partnership agreement in 2018.
Nonetheless, the Central and Eastern European Centre for Asian Studies (CEECAS) NGO maintains that China’s investments in Central and Eastern Europe are modest.
CEECAS says that of the roughly 129 billion dollars China invested in Europe between 2000 and 2019, just10 billion was invested in CEE.
The World Bank expects demand for infrastructure spending in Africa to exceed 300 billion dollar annually by 2040.
According to Deloitte professional services company, Chinese companies were responsible for 31% of infrastructure projects in Africa in 2020, while Western companies were responsible for about 12%. China’s share increased from 12% in 2013, while the West’s share dropped from 37%.