About 20 percent of projects under China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to link Asia, Europe and beyond have been "seriously affected" by the coronavirus pandemic, an official from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on 19 June 2020. According to a survey by the ministry, about 40 percent of projects have seen little adverse impact, and another 30-40% have been somewhat affected, said Wang Xiaolong, director-general of the ministry's International Economic Affairs Department, at a news briefing in Beijing. About 20 percent of the projects have been seriously affected.
 
 
What
  1. The results from the survey were better than expected and although some projects had been put on hold, China had not heard of any major projects being cancelled.
  2. Over 100 countries have signed agreements with China to cooperate in BRI projects like railways, ports, highways and other infrastructure. 
  3. Restrictions on travel and the flow of goods across borders, as well as local measures to combat Covid-19, were the main reasons for the impacts on projects.
  4. As the situation improves we have confidence that the projects will come back and the execution of them will speed up.
  5. The challenge of the pandemic to BRI projects follows a pushback in 2018, when officials in Indonesia, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and elsewhere criticized projects there as costly and unnecessary.
  6. China scaled back some plans after several countries sought to review, cancel or scale down commitments, citing concerns over costs, erosion of sovereignty, and corruption.
Flashback
  1. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious programme to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land and maritime networks along six corridors with the aim of improving regional integration, increasing trade and stimulating economic growth.
  2. The name was coined in 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping, who drew inspiration from the concept of the Silk Road established during the Han Dynasty 2,000 years ago – an ancient network of trade routes that connected China to the Mediterranean via Eurasia for centuries. 
  3. The BRI has also been referred to in the past as 'One Belt One Road'.