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China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment Report H1 2021

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Key findings • BRI finance and investments continued to drop in the first half of 2021 to US$19.3 billion (compared to US$27.5 billion in the first half of 2020); • No coal projects received financing or investments in the first half of 2021; • Green energy finance and investments in H1 2021 dropped by 90% compared to H1 2020; • Oil-related finance and investments in the BRI have been US$1.4 billion in the first half of 2021 alone (compared to US$1.9 billion in all of 2020); • Average deal size is getting smaller, dropping from US$1.3 billion in 2018 to US$0.55 billion in 2021; • Various Asian and some Middle Eastern countries could increase Chinese funding during the first 6 months in 2021; • Chinese BRI financing accelerated particularly in the logistics sector; • For the second half of 2021, we expect Chinese BRI investments to accelerate slightly with a focus on transport in Asia, resources and other strategic assets (e.g. ports) • For the second half of 2021, we see potential for increasing demand for Chinese overseas investments due to the possibility of a post-COVID-19 recovery; • For 2021, we continue to see better opportunities in investing in smaller projects that are quicker to implement (e.g. solar, wind) and an opportunity to cut losses in large and often loss-making projects (e.g. coal); • For the second half of 2021, we see an acceleration of green projects and finance, also due to the “Guidelines for Greening Overseas Investment and Cooperation”, issued by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on July 16. The Guidelines call for application of stricter and if necessary international environmental standards along the whole project lifecycle; • Despite public finance in the G7 and the EU aiming to compete with Chinese funding through the B3W and the “A Globally Connected Europe” strategies, we see opportunities for tripartite cooperation and financing to offer more sustainable development opportunities for BRI countries
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment
Report H1 2021
Dr. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG
IIGF Green BRI Center
Beijing, July 2021
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Please quote as:
Nedopil Wang, Christoph (July 2021): “China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment Report H1 2021”,
Green BRI Center, International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF), Beijing.
Contact:
For inquiries, please contact Dr. Christoph Nedopil, Director IIGF Green BRI Center:
+86 10 622 88768, christoph.nedopil@green-bri.org
© 2021 IIGF Green BRI Center / International Institute of Green Finance
All rights reserved
This brief is produced by the IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center (IIGF Green BRI Center) of the
International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF) at the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in
Beijing. The brief aims to provide a vehicle for publishing preliminary results on topics related to the Belt
and Road Initiative (BRI) to encourage discussion and debate. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions
expressed in this paper are entirely those of the author(s) and should not be attributed in any manner to the
IIGF, to its affiliated organizations, or to members of its Board of Executive Directors. Citation and the use
of material presented in this brief should take into account this provisional character.
For information regarding Green BRI Center Briefs, please contact the Director Dr. Christoph Nedopil Wang.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
China Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Investment
Report H1 2021
Key findings
BRI finance and investments continued to drop in the first half of 2021 to US$19.3 billion (compared
to US$27.5 billion in the first half of 2020);
No coal projects received financing or investments in the first half of 2021;
Green energy finance and investments in H1 2021 dropped by 90% compared to H1 2020;
Oil-related finance and investments in the BRI have been US$1.4 billion in the first half of 2021 alone
(compared to US$1.9 billion in all of 2020);
Average deal size is getting smaller, dropping from US$1.3 billion in 2018 to US$0.55 billion in 2021;
Various Asian and some Middle Eastern countries could increase Chinese funding during the first 6
months in 2021;
Chinese BRI financing accelerated particularly in the logistics sector;
For the second half of 2021, we expect Chinese BRI investments to accelerate slightly with a focus on
transport in Asia, resources and other strategic assets (e.g. ports)
For the second half of 2021, we see potential for increasing demand for Chinese overseas investments
due to the possibility of a post-COVID-19 recovery;
For 2021, we continue to see better opportunities in investing in smaller projects that are quicker to
implement (e.g. solar, wind) and an opportunity to cut losses in large and often loss-making projects
(e.g. coal);
For the second half of 2021, we see an acceleration of green projects and finance, also due to the
Guidelines for Greening Overseas Investment and Cooperation”, issued by the Ministry of Commerce
(MOFCOM) and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) on July 16. The Guidelines call for
application of stricter and if necessary international environmental standards along the whole project
lifecycle;
Despite public finance in the G7 and the EU aiming to compete with Chinese funding through the B3W
and the “A Globally Connected Europe” strategies, we see opportunities for tripartite cooperation and
financing to offer more sustainable development opportunities for BRI countries.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Table of Contents
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Regional)and)country)analysis)of)Chinese)BRI)investments)...................................................................................)6!
BRI)investments)trends)in)different)sectors)................................................................................................................)8!
Energy-related)investments)in)the)BRI)..........................................................................................................................)9!
Transport)investments)in)the)Belt)and)Road)Initiative)........................................................................................)11!
Major)players)in)BRI)investments)................................................................................................................................)14!
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
China’s finance and investments in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI)
Data
1
for Chinese investments in the 140 countries
of the Belt and Road Initiative
2
show that overall
financing and investments in the BRI in the first six
months of 2021 was about US$19.3 billion. This is
a decline of 32% compared to the second half of
2020 and a decline of 29% compared to the first
half of 2020. It is also US$44 billion less compared
to the peak in BRI financing in the second half of
2019. With COVID-19 pandemic ongoing, BRI
investments were at their slowest pace since
China’s overseas investment strategy was coined
“Belt and Road Initiative” in 2013 when China
became the major investor in many of the BRI
countries (see Figure 1). BRI investments picked up
in the second quarter of 2021.
About the data:
On June 28, 2021, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) released its data for “China’s investments
and cooperation in countries along the Belt and Road” covering the period of January to May 2021.3
According to these data, Chinese enterprises invested RMB48.2 billion (about US$7.4billion) in non-financial
direct investments in countries “along the Belt and Road”. The MOFCOM data focus on 55 countries that are
“along the Belt and Road” meaning on a corridor from China to Europe including South Asia.
For this report, the definition of BRI countries includes 140 countries that had signed a cooperation agreement
with China to work under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative by 2021. To analyze investments in
these countries, we base our data on the China Global Investment Tracker.
As with most data, they tend to be imperfect.
Figure 1: China's BRI investments 2013 - H1 2021
1
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and Derek Scissors, China
Global Investment Tracker H1 2021,China Global Investment
Tracker (Washington: American Enterprise Institute, July 2021),
http://www.aei.org/china-global-investment-tracker/.
2
https://green-bri.org/countries-of-the-belt-and-road-initiative-
bri/
3
http://fec.mofcom.gov.cn/article/fwydyl/tjsj/202106/202106031
62209.shtml
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Deal size is getting smaller
As we predicted last year, the average deal size has
decreased from about US$1.3 billion in 2018 to
US$901 million in 2020 and US$500 million in
2021.One reason might be that many BRI country
governments do not guarantee many overseas
projects (a requirement of many large Chinese-
funded projects) due to the COVID-19 pandemic
and ensuing debt service problems. Also, it is
easier to raise funds for smaller projects to
decrease risks.
Non-BRI countries saw a stronger decline in
Chinese investments in 2021
While the first quarter of 2021 was very slow,
Chinese financing and investment activities in the
BRI picked up again in the second quarter with a
quarter-to-quarter increase of 36.9%. This
compares to a decline of Chinese investments in
non-BRI countries in both the first and second
quarters of 2021.
Figure 2: Chinese overseas investments 2018 – H1 2021 in BRI and non-BRI countries (Source: IIGF
Green BRI Center research based on AEI data)
Regional and country analysis of Chinese BRI investments
BRI investments were not evenly distributed
among all regions. Asian countries continued to
receive the largest share of Chinese BRI
investments (about 49% in the first six months of
2021), while African and Middle Eastern countries
received about 38% of BRI investments.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Investments into European BRI countries declined
by 84% compared to the first six months of 2020.
Similarly, investments into East Asia dropped by
59%, while investments into West Asia and Middle
Eastern countries (particularly Egypt) increased
(see Figure 3).
Figure 3: Chinese investments in different BRI regions (first six months of each year)
China’s financing and investment spread across 42
BRI countries. The country list is led by Tanzania,
Egypt, the Russian Federation, and Singapore. This
is in stark contrast to the leaders in 2020, which
were Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and Chile.
Particularly Bangladesh, Egypt, Peru, Uzbekistan
and Nigeria saw BRI investments more than
double in the first half of 2021 compared to the
first half of 2020. Also, Vietnam continued to be a
major beneficiary of Chinese financing and
investment in 2021 (see Figure 4).
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 4: Growth/decline of Chinese BRI investments H1 2020 – H1 2021
BRI investments trends in different sectors
BRI investments in the first six months of 2021
went into all relevant sectors. The focus of BRI
continued to be in infrastructure, particularly
energy and transport. The share of financing and
investments these two sectors, however,
decreased slightly from about 72% in the first half
of 2020 to 65% in the first half of 2021.
In the first half of 2021, particularly the logistics
sector experienced a significant doubling of
investments, while utilities and health
investments dropped to nil. Particularly the lack of
health investments surprise, but might be due to
data problems, as many of the health investments
might fall below the threshold of investment
tracking, or as China also provides development
assistance for health rather than financing and
investments (see Figure 5).
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 5: BRI investments in different sectors
Energy-related investments in the BRI
Energy investments constitute the majority of all
large BRI investments volume (energy investments
also constitute the largest number of deals). In the
first six months of 2021, energy investments were
about US$6.1 billion. This compares to more than
US$9.7 billion investments in the first half of 2020
and almost US$21 billion in the first half of 2017
and 2018.
In 2021, most energy investments went into gas
(37%), followed by oil (30%) and hydropower
(28%). Accordingly, there were no investments
into coal (coal power and coal mining) in the first
half of 2021.
This is also in line with our analyses based on GEM
data that no Chinese-financed coal fired power
4
https://green-bri.org/coal-phase-out-in-the-belt-and-road-
initiative-bri-an-analysis-of-chinese-backed-coal-power-from-
2014-2020/
5
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/n5qYPMlWX096lVwbA3ZUCg
6
https://www.seetao.com/details/70780.html
plant had been announced in 2020
4
. However, 3
new coal-plants to be implemented by Chinese
developers were announced in the first half of
2021: a 2x350 MW coal-fired power plant in
Bosnia
5
, a 3x380 MW coal-fired power plant in
Indonesia by Shanghai Electric
6
, and a 110 MW
coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.
7
It is unclear
how or even whether these plants will be financed,
with Chinese regulators actively promoting a
green BRI without fossil fuels (e.g. the July 2021
Green BRI Guidelines issued by MOFCOM and
MEE)
8
and relevant financial institutions actively
backing away from overseas coal financing (e.g.
ICBC backing away from a US$ 3 billion, 2.8GW
coal plant in Zimbabwe in June 2021.
9
7
https://mp.weixin.qq.com/s/qaHHDIImc0tAmIq0jw_oVg
8
http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/hzs/202107/20210716144040753.
pdf
9
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-30/biggest-
china-bank-walks-away-from-3-billion-zimbabwe-coal-plan
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Furthermore, oil investments were higher than in
previous years: in all of 2020, oil investments were
US$1.9 billion; in the first half of 2021, US$1.5
billion with 5 different deals were registered. This
development is paired with falling financing and
investments for solar/wind in the BRI, which has
dropped from US$2 billion in the first half of 2020
to US$ 190 million in the first half of 2021 with only
one deal in the data (see Figure 6). This does,
however, not mean that Chinese developers are
not engaged in solar and wind energy projects in
BRI countries, as green energy projects might be
financed by international partners and
implemented by Chinese contractors.
Figure 6: Chinese energy investments in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) 2013- H1 2021
Analyzing Chinese energy investments in different
countries, we find that Pakistan was the country,
which received the most energy investments from
2013 to the first half of 2021, followed by the
Russian Federation. The United Arab Emirates has
switched place with Indonesia and moved up from
4th to 3rd place. Over the past years, Pakistan has
been the largest recipient of both coal-related
investments (followed closely by Indonesia) and
the largest recipient of investments in hydropower.
Overall, Pakistan attracted more than 47% of
renewable energy investments (41% of which in
hydropower), while Russia and the United Arab
Emirates predominantly received fossil fuel-
related energy investments (see Figure 7).
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 7: Chinese energy investments in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by country 2013-2021!
Transport investments in the Belt and Road Initiative
Transport-related investments are key for trade
between China and the BRI countries. Accordingly,
China has invested in road, rail, aviation, shipping,
and logistics across the World (see Figure 8).
Aviation: One aviation-related financing and
investments project was announced in the first
half of 2021: the rehabilitation of the Nassiryiah
International Airport in Iraq.
10
Rail: Rail investments included high-speed rail
projects connecting China through Thailand and
Malaysia to Singapore (Kunming-Singapore rail).
China is also building a US$6 bn high-speed rail
10
https://www.iraq-businessnews.com/2021/06/09/china-to-
rehabilitate-the-nassiriyah-international-airport/
11
https://www.globalconstructionreview.com/news/jakarta-
bandung-high-speed-railway-64-complete/
12
Yunnan Chen, Ethiopia and Kenya Are Struggling to Manage
Debt for Their Chinese-Built Railways,Quartz Africa, June 4,
connecting 142 km between Jakarta and Bandung
in Indonesia
11
. Furthermore, China has been
engaged in building several railway projects on the
African continent (e.g., Standard Gauge Railways
in Kenya and Ethiopia
12
). Particularly a 341 km rail
link connecting Lake Viktoria port city of Mwanza
ultimately to the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania
worth US$ 1.3 billion was prominent in 2021.
13
Road-transport: China invested across all
countries with investments including road
construction in Pakistan (e.g., Karakoram Highway
connecting China and Pakistan all the way to
2019, https://qz.com/africa/1634659/ethiopia-kenya-struggle-
with-chinese-debt-over-sgr-railways/.
13
https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-tanzania-railway-
idUSKBN29C20X
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Pakistan’s Gwadar Port
14
). In the first half of 2021
financing and investments in road infrastructure
were stable compared to the first half of 2020 at
around US$2 billion (however dropped
significantly from US$8.9 billion in the first half of
2019).
Ports: China is an important investor in ports
globally, such as the Gwadar port in Pakistan.
15
14
https://multimedia.scmp.com/news/china/article/One-Belt-
One-Road/pakistan.html
15
https://www.dw.com/en/gwadar-why-is-pakistan-fencing-
chinas-belt-and-road-port/a-56026436
16
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-
11/05/c_138528215.htm
Other strategic port investments can be found in
Piraeus (Greece), Lamu
16
and Mombasa
17
(Kenya),
as well as in Djibouti
18
. A recent US$3 billion
agreement to commission Croatia’s largest port
(Rijeka Port) to a consortium of three Chinese
contractors has been cancelled at the beginning of
2021.
19
In the first half of 2021, no relevant port
investments were recorded in the database.
17
https://chinaafricaproject.com/analysis/china-was-never-going-
to-take-the-port-of-mombasa-if-kenya-defaulted-on-its-sgr-debts/
18
https://chinaafricaproject.com/analysis/china-was-never-going-
to-take-the-port-of-mombasa-if-kenya-defaulted-on-its-sgr-debts/
19
https://www.total-croatia-news.com/business/49331-rijeka-
port-chinese-investment
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 8: Chinese investments in BRI transport infrastructure first half of 2021
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Major players in BRI investments
Among the major players for BRI investments in
2020 were almost exclusively Chinese SOEs. The
first non-SOE investor was Alibaba on 12th rank.
The largest investor was the China State
Construction Engineering, followed by China
Railway Construction Corporation (CCCC).
Figure 9: Major Players in BRI investments in 2021 (parent companies)
BRI investments in a global comparison
Globally, FDI in 2020 showed a decline of 35%
20
from their 2019 value to US$1 trillion, at the same
level as 2005.
This decline of global FDI was particularly relevant
for developed countries, whose FDI fell by 58%.
Developing countries (including many BRI
countries) saw a total decline of FDI by 8% (see
Figure 10). This thus compares to a 49.6%
decrease in 2020 for Chinese BRI investments
compared to 2019. Similar to BRI trends, South
East Asia received more FDI (+4%), while the drop
was most pronounced in Europe (-80%), Latin
America (-45%), and Africa (-16%). China became
the largest recipient of global FDI with USD212
billion in 2020.
21
At the same time, China also
became the largest contributor to global foreign
direct investment in 2020, according to UNCTAD.
20
https://unctad.org/news/global-foreign-direct-investment-set-
partially-recover-2021-uncertainty-remains
21
https://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/statistics.htm
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 10: FDI inflows, global and by group of economies, 2007-2020 and FDI outflows by home
country (Source: UNCTAD)
Outlook for 2021 foreign direct investments
According to UNCTAD, the outlook for FDI in 2021
is less negative. Indeed, FDI is expected to “bottom
out” in 2021 and recover lost ground with an
increase of 10-15%
22
. However, as many emerging
countries are still struggling with COVID-19, most
of this recovery in FDI should be expected in
developed countries rather than emerging
economies. The issue of lacking investments in BRI
countries can have a knock-on effect by increasing
22
https://unctad.org/news/global-foreign-direct-investment-set-
partially-recover-2021-uncertainty-remains
the technological gap, while governments
continue to raise funds through taxes, which in
turn is exacerbating debt issues. (you can find
detailed information and interactive graphics on
this topic on our Brief on Debt in the Belt and Road
Initiative
23
). At the same time, particularly more
FDI can lead to higher tax returns and thus an
improvement of the overall economic situation in
these countries.
23
https://green-bri.org/public-debt-in-the-belt-and-road-
initiative-bri-covid-19
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Figure 11: World Foreign Direct Investment Outlook 2021 and beyond (Source: UNCTAD)
24
Outlook for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) Finance and Investments
Chinese finance and investments into the Belt and
Road Initiative countries in 2021 have continued
their declining trend from 2020. With continued
lockdowns and issues of debt, we do not see a fast
recovery of overseas investments in the second
half of 2021. Nevertheless, with a resurgent post-
COVID19 world, there is both more scope and
demand for overseas finance, yet unlikely to the
same level as in the late 2010s. This is also a
recognition of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce
(MOFCOM), which put a break on fast overseas
expansion in its 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP)
25
for 2021
to 2025: it plans for China to invest US$550 billion
(that includes non-BRI countries), down 25% from
US$740 billion in the 2016-2020 period. Also,
24
https://unctad.org/news/global-foreign-direct-investment-set-partially-recover-2021-uncertainty-remains
25
http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/zhs/202107/20210708110842898.pdf?mc_cid=25492edd68&mc_eid=7d8719095d
Chinese contracting volume is planned to
decrease from US$800 billion in the previous FYP
to US$700 billion in this FYP.
This does not necessarily mean that the deal
number is decreasing. As we have been seeing in
2021 and have been arguing previously, many
smaller projects can be financed even in more
difficult economic circumstances and often
provide both the means to boost sustainable
economic development, provide employment and
are better able to protect the environment.
Nevertheless, we see that specific strategic
investments (such as in ports, resources) will
continue to go ahead, while road and energy
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
investments will focus on countries in Asia
(particularly after the conclusion of the RCEP trade
agreement in November 2020). As a case in point,
China announced in January to evaluate investing
into a freight rail project Mandalay-Kyaukphyu
railway in Myanmar “to allow merchants from
China's Yunnan Province to look for business
opportunities on the Indian Ocean at Kyaukphyu
economic zone”.
26
To move the BRI investments forward, we stick to
our recommendations from the previous report,
some of which have been formalized:
Figure 12: 5-step framework for accelerating green BRI investments after COVID19
1. Focus on projects that are financially
sustainable and cut losses in non-profitable
projects now.
BRI investors should focus on smaller projects that
are easier to finance and faster to implement.
Particularly in regard to infrastructure and energy
investments, scalable solar and wind investments
seem viable, as long as local conditions provide the
relevant grids to handle renewable energy supply
With decreasing energy cost for renewable energy,
we also see an opportunity to invest in early
phase-out of existing older coal projects, which
would be both economically and environmentally
relevant.
26
https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202101/1212455.shtml
2. Support partner-countries and partner
businesses in dealing with (sovereign) debt-
repayment of already invested BRI projects, e.g.,
through debt-for-nature swaps and nature
performance bonds.
Debt is a major concern for future growth in many
BRI countries. As we found in our in-depth analysis
of debt in BRI countries, China has a unique
opportunity to support BRI countries in dealing
with their debt both bilaterally and multilaterally.
Dealing with the debt issue is crucial for providing
BRI countries with the necessary fiscal space for
future investments.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
While debt-for-resource or debt-for-equity swaps
might seem beneficial for China in the short-term
to reduce the debt burden in the BRI countries,
these swaps tend to undermine future domestic
growth opportunities for BRI countries. Rather,
Chinese relevant stakeholders together with
international partners through multilateral
frameworks should support green recovery by
swapping part of the debt for nature and providing
necessary frameworks to increase transparency
and accountability of the use of funds.
Furthermore, sustainable debt instruments could
be applied to raise more funds, e.g., through
nature performance bonds.
27
3. Increase international cooperation for BRI
projects to allow existing and useful projects to
go ahead also in difficult times.
Tripartite cooperation with international financial
and implementation partners can support BRI
projects through better access to financial
resources, risk sharing and knowledge sharing.
Particularly non-SOEs that often have a higher
burden of accessing investments from Chinese
large financial institutions could benefit through
broader access to finance, as witnessed for
example in the Zhanatas wind farm in Kazakhstan,
co-financed by EBRD, AIIB, GCF and ICBC, while it
was build and is operated by China International
power Holding
28
. Also, Chinese financial
institutions could benefit to de-risk project finance
by broaden their international cooperation.
With the European Union launching its “A Globally
Connected Europe” and the G7 announcing its
“Build Back Better World” (B3W) initiative, there
seems to be some more competition for the BRI,
particularly for public finance. However, if
cooperation for project finance and development
27
https://www.f4b-initiative.net/news/new-%E2%80%9Cnature-
performance-bond%E2%80%9D-to-tackle-twin-sovereign-debt-
and-biodiversity-crises
in emerging markets is the goal, Chinese investors
and developers can accelerate their cooperation
with both public and private financial institutions
from various economies, particularly if they
manage to share standards.
4. Increase use of common environmental and
social standards in project evaluation (e.g.,
environmental impact assessment EIA) and for
environmental and social risk management
(ESMS)
In July 2021, the Ministry of Commerce
(MOFCOM), together with the Ministry of Ecology
and Environment, issued the Guidelines for
Greening Overseas Investment and
Cooperation”
29
. Within this Guideline, Chinese
developers are encouraged to adhere to
international or Chinese environmental standards,
particularly in countries whose domestic
environmental standards and governance does
not meet international standards.
This is a formalization of a number of previous
Guidances, including the Green Development
Guidance for BRI Projects Baseline Study” backed
by various relevant Chinese ministries published
by the BRI Green Development Coalition in
December 2020 calls for Chinese overseas
investors to apply independent environmental
impact assessments (EIA) and strict environmental
and social risk management (ESMS) to ensure
projects and investments are minimizing
environmental harm and maximizing
environmental benefits. Also, the Green
Investment Principles (GIP) integrate sustainability
into corporate governance, requiring boards to
understand environmental, social and governance
risks, as well as disclosing environmental
information.
28
https://www.ebrd.com/news/2020/ebrd-aiib-icbc-and-gcf-
provide-us-953-million-for-wind-farm-in-kazakhstan.html
29
_http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/hzs/202107/2021071614404075
3.pdf
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By applying international standards, Chinese
financial institutions can more easily raise capital
on the global capital markets, accelerate co-
financing with international partners and take
responsibility to fulfill the goal of building a “Green
Belt and Road”.
5. Develop socially and environmentally
conscious phase-out strategies for non-
performing investments
Several investments in the Belt and Road Initiative
have had to be stopped, mothballed or cancelled
due to financial (e.g., difficulties in financing or
servicing debt) and operational reasons (e.g. due
to travel restrictions or problems in supply chains).
According to our study, over 50% of announced
coal fired power plants have been mothballed.
In order to avoid reputational, social and
environmental risks arising from stopped,
mothballed or cancelled projects, plans should be
developed and implemented by financial
institutions including insurance companies,
developers, local governments and relevant
Chinese authorities that compensate any losses to
workers and companies up to a specific extent,
and that ensure that nature around mothballed
and particularly stopped projects can be
remediated. This also helps avoid having skeleton
constructions serve as a reminder of unfinished
projects.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Appendix: About the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) China’s main
international cooperation and economic strategy.
The BRI is also known as the “One Belt One Road”
(OBOR), the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the
21st-century Maritime Silk Road” or just the “New
Silk Road”. Its Chinese name is 一带一路 (yi dai yi
lu). It was announced by Chinese President Xi
Jinping in Kazakhstan in October 2013.
The construction of the Belt and Road Initiative is
anchored in the Chinese constitution.
Goals of the Belt and Road Initiative – and how to
make it green
The BRI has officially “five goals”:
policy coordination,
facilities connectivity,
unimpeded trade,
financial integration, and
people-to-people bonds.
Over the past years, the emphasis on developing a
“green” and “high-quality” Belt and Road Initiative
have accelerated. The Ministry of Environmental
Protection (now Ministry of Ecology and
Environment) had published the Guidance on
Promoting Green Belt and Road already in 2017.
The document stresses the relevance of the
“ecological civilization”, “green development
concepts”, “principles of resource efficiency and
environmental friendliness” within the five goals
of the Belt and Road Initiative.
During the 2019 Belt and Road Forum, green and
sustainable development of the Belt and Road
Initiative took center stage, together with debt
sustainability. Accordingly, the Ministry of Ecology
and Environment initiated the BRI International
Green Development Coalition (BRIGC). With its 10
working groups, the BRIGC aims to support green
development, e.g. in regard to
green finance
green transport
green innovation
green urbanization
green standards
In 2020, the MEE and several relevant ministries
backed the Green Development Guidance for BRI
Projects Baseline Study published by the Belt and
Road Initiative International Green Development
Coalition (BRIGC). The Guidance lays out 9
recommendations for greening the BRI and an
initial project taxonomy that distinguishes projects
with high environmental risk (red projects) and
projects with environmental benefits (“green
projects”).
Find an overview of relevant policy documents for
the Belt and Road Initiative here.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative
According to official information, in January 2021,
140 had signed cooperation agreements for the
BRI. For countries and organizations to “join” the
BRI, China and the respective country or
organization sign a Memorandum of
Understanding (MoU).
For 7 countries listed in official Chinese media
(yidaiyilu.gov.cn), we could not confirm a
signature of an MoU for bilateral cooperation
under the Belt and Road Initiative framework.
The following BRI map shows the list of countries
that have signed MoUs or are said to be members
of the BRI. You can find a more detailed list of
countries of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) here.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
About the author
Dr. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG is the Founding Director of the IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center, a
Senior Research Fellow at the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing, China, and a
visiting faculty at Singapore Management University.
Christoph has led economic research and policy development for green finance with a focus on climate and
biodiversity amongst others for the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and
Development (CCICED), the Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), the BRI Green Development
Coalition (BRIGC), various private and multilateral finance institutions (e.g. ADB, IFC), as well as multilateral
institutions (e.g. UNDP, UNESCAP) and international governments.
Christoph has co-authored several books and reports, including the Green Development Guidance for BRI
projects (backed by MEE and other relevant parties), UNDP’s SDG Finance Taxonomy, IFC’s “Navigating
through Crises” and IFC’s “Corporate Governance Handbook for Board Directors”, as well as multiple
academic papers on capital flows, sustainability and international development.
Prior to his current role, Christoph was engaged by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) for 10 years
and as Director for the Sino-German Sustainable Transport Project with the German Cooperation Agency GIZ
in Beijing.
Christoph holds a Master of Engineering as well as a Ph.D. in Economics from the Technical University Berlin,
and a Master of Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School.
About the IIGF Green BRI Center
The IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center (Green BRI Center) is a leading research center that provides
research, analyses and information on the policies, economics, environment, sustainability and green
finance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – also known as Silk Road Initiative.
Through our work, we strive to be the global leader for independent and research-based policy and action
to build an environmentally-friendly and green Belt and Road Initiative that has zero emissions, protects
biodiversity, and provides better livelihoods for people. As such we focus on specific areas:
sustainable infrastructure
sustainable transport
renewable energy
biodiversity finance
green innovation
green finance policy
The IIGF Green BRI Center was founded in 2019 and is part of the independent think tank International
Institute of Green Finance (IIGF) of the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing, China.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
About the International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF)
The International Institute of Green Finance (IIGF) is a leading think tank on green finance in China. IIGF was
established in 2016 by Prof. Yao Wang. The Institute has been involved in designing the green finance system
in China and has been working within China and internationally on researching and harmonizing standards
e.g. for green bonds, green credit, green insurance, green funds. With its staff of about 50 people, IIGF is
engaged in numerous private sector, public sector and academic projects. It is funded by a donation from
Tianfeng Securities, project work and research grants from international partners.
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© 2021, IIGF Green BRI Center
Contact us for more detailed analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), its investments, trends and policies:
Green Belt and Road Initiative Center
International Institute of Green Finance, CUFE
62 South College Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China, 100081
中央财经大学绿色金融国际研究院
北京市海淀区学院南路 62 , 100081
+86 10 62288768
info@green-bri.org
www.green-bri.org || http://iigf.cufe.edu.cn!
... Since its announcement in 2013, around 140 countries have signed an MoU with China to 'join' the BRI (Green Finance and Development Center, 2021). By 2021, Chinaʼs engagement in the BRI through construction and investment was about US$850 billion (Nedopil Wang, 2022), particularly in infrastructure projects to increase connectivity between China and other countries, and China aims to provide more infrastructure connectivity through the BRI in the future (National Development and Reform Commission et al., 2015). However, the promise of infrastructure-led connectivity is often accompanied by risks of sovereign debt distress in host countries (Barney & Souksakoun, 2021 Similarly, some Chinese scholars see a clear mandate for the MCDF to serve the BRI. ...
Full-text available
Article
Initiated in 2017 and formally established in 2020, the Multilateral Cooperation Center for Development Finance (MCDF) is the latest addition to the development finance landscape in Asia. This article provides an in‐depth analysis of MCDFʼs potential to offer additionality in development finance and its political legitimacy by comparing it to 18 development finance and capacity‐building organisations. The article finds that while the MCDF contributes to closing the substantial infrastructure financing gap in Asia, it risks overlapping with existing initiatives to such a degree that it may become an inefficient use of resources while lacking legitimacy as a multilateral organisation due to its unclear relationship with Chinaʼs Belt and Road Initiative. From this outset, and given the climate mandates of its multilateral development bank members, this article finds that if the MCDF focuses specifically on green and climate finance, it could carve out an area where it can become a much‐needed new platform for project development and coordination.
Christoph NEDOPIL WANG is the Founding Director of the IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center, a Senior Research Fellow at the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing, China, and a visiting faculty at Singapore Management University
  • Dr
Dr. Christoph NEDOPIL WANG is the Founding Director of the IIGF Green Belt and Road Initiative Center, a Senior Research Fellow at the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE) in Beijing, China, and a visiting faculty at Singapore Management University.