Special Report – Belt and Road

Belt and road corridors see more technology and industrial parks as China’s influence spreads

China has built 52 industrial parks in cooperation with other countries as it continues to implement its ‘Belt and Road Initiative’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 12:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 2:34pm

Technology and industrial parks are spreading rapidly along belt and road corridors.

Overseas, China has built 52 industrial parks in cooperation with other countries, according to the China Centre for Globalisation. These range from traditional research and business parks to the ambitious Pakistan corridor.

Pakistan seems destined to become a tech laboratory, according to a Dawn report detailing the China and Pakistan governments’ Plan for the China-Pakistan Economic Corri­dor.

“Thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up ‘demonstration projects’ in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology,” the
report explained.

It adds that a full system of monitoring and surveillance would be built in a number of cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law
and order.

A national fibre optic backbone would also be built, not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial TV broadcasts that would “cooperate with Chinese media in the ‘dissemination of Chinese culture’,” the Dawn report adds.

Industrial parks, or special economic zones, would be built to meet the plan’s “specified conditions, including the availability of water… sufficient supply of energy and the capacity of self service power”, the study explains.

Meanwhile, in Belarus, China is paying 75 per cent of a US$2 billion tech park. According to Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, high-tech enterprises from all over the world will create the “production of tomorrow” – electronics, biomedicine, fine chemistry, engineering and new materials. Markets are the Commonwealth of Independent States countries and the European Union.

On a less ambitious scale, a Chinese firm is going to build a US$60 million industrial park in Ethiopia, where a high-speed railway to Djibouti has just been completed.

China Merchants Group, a Hong Kong-based conglomerate, is hoping to replicate the success of the Shekou Industrial Zone in Shenzhen by developing the Djibouti Port-Park-City project.

In addition, 56 industrial parks in economic cooperation zones are being built in 20 countries along belt and road routes, says China’s Ministry of Commerce.

About 1,000 Chinese companies are doing business in textiles, home appliances, steel, construction materials, chemical industry, automobiles and machinery, investing US$18.55 billion in the parks – with a total of US$50 billion in industrial output, US$1 billion in tax revenue to host countries, and creating 177,000 jobs for local people.

The parks allow smaller Chinese companies that lack resources to reduce costs when they shift their manufacturing overseas, and to negotiate preferential tax policies from foreign countries keen to attract investment. They also enable companies to avoid tariffs imposed on made-in-China goods.