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20% Belt and Road Initiative 'seriously affected' due to coronavirus: China

20% Belt and Road Initiative `seriously affected` due to coronavirus: China
Belt and Road Initiative Photograph:( Others )
Jun 19, 2020, 02.47 PM (IST)

China's foreign ministry said that around 20 per cent of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been "seriously affected" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Also Read; How coronavirus impacts China's Belt and Road initiative

"As the situation improves we have confidence that the projects will come back and the execution of them will speed up," Wang Xiaolong, director-general of the ministry's International Economic Affairs Department, said.

China's controversial BRI project has been in the eye of the storm with the country having given large sums of money as loans. As the coronavirus pandemic spread, several countries have been looking for a loan waiver.

The Chinese official asserted that there were no reports of any projects being cancelled due to the virus even as several countries including Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia had earlier complained about the huge costs involved in the project.

The Chinese ministry said about "40 per cent of projects have seen little adverse impact, and another 30-40 per cent have been somewhat affected". 

The ambitious project is President's Xi's pet project which intends to extend road and railway network through Asia, Europe and Africa including linking seaports in a bid to boost trade.

China has given loans worth $460 billion to several countries so far with over 140 countries having signed up the BRI project so far including Iran and Pakistan.

In April as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold in Pakistan, authorities ordered the resumption of the project called the phase-II of Sino-Pakistani Industrial Cooperation.

Last month, Hungary's Parliament had voted to ratify a bill to keep details of China-financed Budapest-Belgrade railway track a secret as it could "threaten Hungary's ability to pursue its foreign policy and trade interests without undue external influence".

Under the agreement, Hungary will be financing 85 percent of the investment costs -- estimated to be at least $2.2 billion from credit and the remaining 15 per cent from its funds


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