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Belt and Road Initiative: Top Developments

 Source: RWR Advisory Group

Major Portuguese Telcos State They Will Not Use Huawei in 5G Networks
On July 29, three main mobile phone telecommunication firms in Portugal stated that they would not use Huawei technology in their core 5G networks, despite the lack of any directive from the Portuguese government on this issue. Vodafone, NOS, and Altice service nearly all of Portugal’s mobile users. This follows recent European limits on Huawei’s involvement in 5G networks, such as the United Kingdom’s ban on new Huawei equipment being used in its 5G networks, and France’s decision to not renew licenses given to Huawei equipment upon expiration, effectively phasing the company out of French 5G infrastructure by 2028. 

CC-7 Signs Supplemental Agreement for Russian Chemical Complex
On August 3, it was reported that in late July, Baltic Chemical Complex Co., Ltd. and China National Chemical Engineering No. 7 Construction Company (CC-7) signed a $6.588 billion supplementary agreement for the second phase of the Baltic Chemical Complex engineering, procurement, and construction contract. The main project, signed in October 2019, contracted CC-7 to build a $13.3 billion ethylene integration complex near Ust-Luga, Russia in the Gulf of Finland. It will reportedly be the largest ethylene integration project in the world. The main content of the second phase supplementary agreement includes LLE (Long Cycle Equipment) procurement and early site work (including the design, procurement, and construction of temporary facilities, public facilities, and grounds). 
 
Plans Announced for a $10-$15 Billion Chinese-Armenian Smart Science City 

On August 6, the China Science and Technology Development (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd. and the Reconstruction and Development Agency of Armenia signed an agreement for China to finance and construct a joint “Smart Science City” in Armenia. China will reportedly invest $10 to $15 billion in the venture over 15 years. The companies established in the city will be focused on artificial intelligence, smart agriculture, medicine, and banking development, as well as tourism. Negotiations are still underway in regard to the exact location, although the Chinese side has stipulated that 15 to 20 square kilometers be reserved for the city. The population of the city is anticipated to be 15,000, and the city planning will start in 2021. 

ByteDance to Launch a New Data Center in Ireland
On August 6, ByteDance Technology announced that it would invest $499 million in a new data center at an undisclosed location in Ireland, its first in Europe. The facility is scheduled to open for operation in early 2022. ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, has recently expressed interest in expanding its operations into Europe rather than the United States in light of President Trump’s recent directive to ban the popular app for national security reasons, unless purchased by an American company. The company is also said to be considering basing its new headquarters in London and has reportedly had discussions with the UK government on the potential move. 

Huawei-Built Data Center in PNG Accused of Severe Cybersecurity Risks
On August 11, details of a report issued by the Papua New Guinea National Cybersecurity Center on a Huawei-constructed national data center in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea were released, stating that the center had serious security vulnerabilities and that secret government files were exposed to risk of theft. The center, built in 2018, reportedly used outdated encryption software and inadequate firewall protection for the governmental archive data it held. The information has led Papua New Guinea’s communications minister, Timothy Masiu, to declare that the country should not repay its $53 million loan to the Export-Import Bank of China for the data center. Papua New Guinea is now reportedly seeking the Australian government’s help in updating the poorly-maintained facility.  

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