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Xinhua Silk Road
International Relation

Spotlight: China's BRI projects bring tangible benefits to European countries

December 04, 2020


Abstract : With a number of power and transport projects built in recent years, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is playing a positive role in Europe, providing clean power and high-quality infrastructure to local people.

BERLIN, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- With a number of power and transport projects built in recent years, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is playing a positive role in Europe, providing clean power and high-quality infrastructure to local people.

Being benefit-sharing, environmental-friendly and high-quality, the BRI projects are bringing tangible benefits to European countries and their people.

SHARING BENEFITS

Constructed by China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation (CMC), the Kaposvar 100MW Photovoltaic Power Plant is Hungary's largest solar power station with a total investment of around 100 million euros (about 121 million U.S. dollars).

The CMC invested equity capital, while Bank of China provided financing for the project. The project funds are raised from the market, while Hungary had no loan or electricity purchase fulfillment guarantee, Meng Fanye, director of the CMC Hungarian project, told Xinhua.

The CMC's investment will be amortized with electricity sales in the future, Meng said, adding the station will contribute a total of 2 million euros (about 2.12 million dollars) in taxes to local and state governments.

The 180-km-long highway linking the port of Bar on Montenegro's Adriatic coast to the landlocked neighbor Serbia is another example. The project carried out by a Chinese company only has a 2-percent interest rate, a 20-year repayment schedule, and a six-year grace period, extremely favorable by international standards.

Rejecting a so-called "debt bondage" myth, Montenegrin Prime Minister Dusko Markovic said in June 2019 that his country did not provide land as collateral for loans, adding the Export-Import Bank of China offered the best terms in the international financial market at that moment.

"Absolutely nothing of what is speculated is true ... there is no 'debt bondage'," said Markovic, stressing that the investor is Montenegro, not China or any other country.

ENVIRONMENT FRIENDLY

Since the very beginning of the BRI about seven years ago, environment, ecosystem and climate protection have become top priorities. In April 2019, China said that the BRI must be green and sustainable, and would deliver high-quality growth for all.

The BRI projects in Europe are using cutting-edge technologies and fully comply with European Union (EU) standards.

Stanari, a small town in northern Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), is famous for the Stanari Thermal Power Plant (Stanari TPP), the first China-built coal-fired power plant in Europe, which went into operation in 2016.

Stanari is rich in lignite, a low-quality type of coal emitting many pollutants if burned in a conventional way. In 2016, China's Dongfang Electric Corporation (DEC) introduced an energy-saving and emission-reducing technology to the plant.

Now the production here is efficient, said Aleksandar Milic, technical director of the plant, adding that in controlling emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and dust, the operation meets or even exceeds EU standards.

In Croatia, the Peljesac Bridge project showed that a major infrastructure can make little impact on the local ecosystem with the highest environmental standards.

The main environmental challenges of the project are preserving local oyster farming, while protecting dolphins in the surrounding waters from construction noises.

Niksa Orlandic, a Croatian environmental engineer of this project, said that engineers of China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) has managed to make only slight impact on water streams when knocking steel piles into seabed, using the "air bubble" noise-canceling technology originating from submarines to protect dolphins.

"The construction of the bridge has no negative effects on the mariculture in Ston Bay, which is known for oyster farming and whitefish breeding," said Orlandic.

HIGH QUALITY

In Europe, where regulations are among the strictest in the world, the BRI projects are in full compliance with European standards and international practices.

Lu Shengwei, a representative of the CRBC, said the company hired Croatian law firms and consulting companies in order to adapt to EU regulations regarding infrastructure projects.

"We spent hundreds of hours studying the details here. Based on our rich experiences in infrastructure around the world, we have raised our project standards and now all of them have reached the EU standards," Lu said.

The Chinese contractor entrusted local supervising companies to oversee quality control, environmental protection, as well as legal issues.

Oleg Butkovic, Croatian minister of maritime affairs, transport and infrastructure, expressed his satisfaction that the project is going on as planned when visiting the site last month.

After four years of operation, the Stanari TPP has become an iconic project of the town. It is also considered a signature project within the framework of the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European Countries as well as the BRI.

The power plant has put Stanari on the map. The operation has attracted peer companies from more than 30 countries to visit, according to Hu Yang, DEC's operation and maintenance manager for the Stanari project.

"We are showcasing ... Chinese companies' capabilities in project design, construction, operation and maintenance at an arena of the highest level," Hu said. Enditem

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