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Belt and Road Initiative Disputes: An Arbitration Perspective on the Impact of the China-USA Trade War and COVID-19 by Daniel Meagher*

7 May 2021 5:06 PM | Anonymous

Paper presented at the AfAA 2nd Annual International Arbitration Conference, 15th - 16th April 2021

Executive Summary

The Belt and Road Initiative represents great opportunities in Africa, however projects are reportedly under strain and criticism for a lack of transparency in selection of sub-contractors, delayed execution, lack of capacity building, and unwieldy debt burdens.  External events in the last few years – in particular the US-China trade war and the spread of the COVID-19 virus have caused significant disruption for infrastructure projects and supply chains.  This article explores those developments as they relate to Belt and Road projects in Africa, and comments upon the potential dispute and arbitration trends which may arise as a result. 

I.               Introduction

The Belt and Road Initiative (“BRI”) has resulted in incredible amount of Chinese investment into a wide array of infrastructure projects around the world.   Specifically in Africa, Chinese investment since 2000 has totalled more than $153 billion.[2] Significantly, a sizable portion of that capital has reached into a multitude of projects across sub-Saharan Africa.[3]

However, as BRI projects have reached full stride, many have been repeatedly hampered by delays, budget overruns and a lack of transparency. During the last three years, those fissures have been greatly exacerbated due to an array of geopolitical developments. The United States and China have been engaged in a trade war since early 2018 – one which shows no sign of abating under the new U.S. administration.  Beginning in 2019, China downshifted to a less-expansive BRI policy and has massively curtailed its BRI lending, putting at risk not only new projects, but the continued funding of projects already underway. Finally, the onset of the global pandemic in early 2020 wreaked the same havoc on BRI initiatives that it did to infrastructure initiatives elsewhere, bringing disrupted supply chains, government lockdowns, border closures and operational difficulties due to staff absences, social distancing measures and procurement of PPE equipment. 

This collision of forces has the potential to greatly increase the risk of projects becoming derailed—and of the contractual disputes that follow. This paper reviews those forces and how they set the stage for a possible growth in arbitration cases.

II.            The US-China Trade War

Imposition of Tariffs and Redirected Supply Chains

The origins of today’s US-China trade have their roots in the mid-1980s, when the United States began its increased reliance on Chinese imports, leading to the ballooning of the US trade deficit.[4] Donald Trump, elected president in 2016 on an “America First” platform, became particularly focused on reducing or eliminating this trade deficit with China, while also voicing concerns over inadequate protection of intellectual property rights in China.  This latter concern stemmed in part from reported systems in place within China which allegedly forced US companies to manufacture goods within China (rather than in the US) and, in the process, transfer valuable technologies to Chinese entities.[5]

From January 2018 onwards, tariffs were imposed by the US government – initially on limited categories of goods, such as solar panels and residential washing machines.[6]  However, in the course of 2018 and 2019, more tariffs were applied by both the US and China to hundreds of billions worth of goods across hundreds of categories of goods. 

One of the immediate impacts of the tariffs was trade diversion, as each of the US and China looked to other countries for the import of goods that they would normally get from each other.  In the case of the US, that meant products like electronics, electrical machinery and furniture were sourced from elsewhere, including Vietnam, Korea, Malaysia and Mexico.  In the case of China, that meant mostly soybeans and grains were imported from countries like Chile, Malaysia and Argentina.[7]  The data on this trade diversion does not show that either the US or China were getting significantly more goods or services from Africa.  

A Short-Lived Truce 

Despite the ongoing trade war, the US and Chinese governments continued a dialogue and in January 2020 reached the so-called Phase One Trade Deal.[8]  Under that agreement, Beijing committed to import an additional $200 billion worth of American goods and services over the course of 2020 to 2022 (going some way towards addressing the trade deficit, which in 2017 prior to the trade war stood at US $375 billion for that year), together with making commitments towards more robust protections for intellectual property rights. 

However, that deal, signed in the waning days of the Trump administration, ultimately represented only a temporary thaw in US-China relations. The election of President Joe Biden has brought no large-scale change to the tension between the two countries, as seen at the high-level meeting between US and Chinese officials held in Alaska in March 2021.[9]  Indeed, merely days after that gathering, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on two additional Chinese government officials,[10] while China imposed its own sanctions on US individuals.[11]  Furthermore, while pre-imposed tariffs remain in place, a series of further trade measures have been imposed by the US government against China, including export controls, enhancing scrutiny of Chinese foreign investment and the implementation of a series of prohibitions on Chinese military companies.[12]  

III.          China-Africa Trade and Investment 

Collateral Damage of the US-China Trade War 

While the US and China use tariffs to target goods imported from one to the other, the ramifications of such a trade war reach countries far removed from the line of fire. 

In October 2018, the IMF estimated that trade tensions and tariffs imposed between the US and China could entail a cumulative loss of GDP in sub-Saharan Africa of up to 1.5% of GDP during 2018-2021, with much of that impact on commodity-exporting countries and those countries that are more integrated in global markets.[13] 

As noted above, the trade war resulted in the redirection of supply chains, and some countries benefited by filling gaps arising from reduced US imports from China or reduced Chinese imports from the US.  However, the extent to which African countries particularly benefited from these redirected supply chains has not been clear. What is clear, however, is that a decreased US demand for Chinese manufacturing export has led to decreased Chinese demands for the industrial metals and other commodities for China’s manufacturing processes. 

As illustrative of this decreased Chinese demand for industrial metals and other commodities, oil and industrial metal prices fell following implementation of US tariffs on Chinese imports in June 2018.[14]  However, China’s recovery from the pandemic from mid-2020 onwards has boosted some commodity prices (noting that it is estimated that China represents an estimated half or more of demand for many commodities globally).  For example, copper slumped to $4,600 per tonne in March 2020 before then hitting an all-time high of $8,000 per tonne as of end 2020.[15]  

These price swings and the decreased Chinese demand for raw materials (as a knock-on effect of the US-China trade war) have certainly affected commodity-exporting African nations.  One of the clearest examples is the drop in the export of cobalt from the Democratic Republic of Congo to China, from approximately $4 billion worth of cobalt export in 2018, to only $2 billion in 2019.[16] 

However, even with examples of drops in commodity export from Africa to China (as a knock-on effect of the US-China trade war), it might be that the ultimate impact of the US-China trade war on China-Africa trade as a whole has not been that severe.  According to China’s Ministry of Commerce, China-Africa trade value decreased only marginally between 2018 and 2019, from $204 billion to $200 billion.[17] 

A Changed Policy Environment

While the effect of the US-China trade war on China-Africa trade, and thus on BRI, is a topic for debate,[18] it is clear that since 2019 the Chinese government has implemented significant policy changes regarding BRI. In addition, there have been indications that Chinese banks are increasingly concerned as to the potential for the trade war to negatively impact the credit quality of Chinese companies that sponsor a given BRI project or perform a key role in the relevant supply chain.  One Beijing-based banker was quoted as of July 2019 stating: “We’re considering rejecting funding for some Belt and Road projects after analysing the potential impact the trade war might have on the sponsor”.[19]

The policy change by the Chinese government from approximately 2019 onwards has meant consolidation of investments abroad rather than continued rapid expansion.  As stated by Wang Huiyao, an advisor to China’s state council and president of the Center for China and Globalisation: “China is consolidating, absorbing and digesting the investments made in the past”.[20]

This consolidation with respect to the BRI is most immediately evident in the significant reduction of funding by China’s two major policy banks (the China Development Bank and the Export Import Bank of China).  Those two banks lent an estimated $75 billion in 2016.  In 2019, that number stood at only $4 billion.[21] 

Similarly, according to Chinese government data, China’s overseas investment growth declined from 49.3% year-on-year growth in 2016, down to 23% in 2017, 13.6% in 2018, and a mere 0.1% in the first half of 2019.  Moody’s, the international credit rating agency, has predicted that this downward trend will continue.[22]

It is harder to trace the immediate impact of this reduction in funding on BRI projects in Africa – indeed, there is some suggestion that China’s policy has been to increase its efforts in Africa and elsewhere in order to reduce its dependency on the US.[23]  However the undoubted result is that in the case of at least some projects, if no alternative financing can be identified, projects will be abandoned or curtailed, and the lack of financing will expose underlying problems with a project such as cost overruns and delays by sub-contractors.  These developments will undoubtedly lead to disputes and, potentially, arbitration.

IV.           The COVID-19 Pandemic

In January 2020, in the midst of the US-China trade war and in the same month that the US and Chinese governments reached a short-lived truce as described above, an article published in the international medical journal The Lancet described a study of the first 41 cases of a novel coronavirus which had emerged in Wuhan, China at the very end of 2019.[24]  In the course of 2020 (and still in 2021), the virus spread around the world with devastating effect, and governments worldwide took a range of drastic measures to try to contain and manage the spread of the virus. 

From a commercial perspective, government measures including lockdowns and restricted movement have had a significant negative impact on businesses worldwide.  Businesses have had to grapple with unpredictable supply chains, staff shortages, significantly altered customer demand (depending on sector) and innumerable knock-on effects of the pandemic. 

As of April 2021, governments are still grappling with finding the right combination of lockdown measures, access to healthcare, vaccine roll-out and economic stimulus.  There may be an end in sight, but much depends on globally-coordinated vaccine deployment, economic recoveries and future reactions of the scientific community and governments worldwide to new strains as they develop.  In the meantime, the economic effect on Africa has been significant, with the continent’s GDP dropping 2.1% in 2020, leading to Africa’s first recession in 50 years.[25]  The pandemic is reported to have had different effects on different African economies – with tourism-dependent economies the worst hit, followed by non-oil resource intensive economies, followed by oil-exporting countries.[26]  Non-resource-intensive and non-tourism focused economies faired the best, with only a 0.9% GDP decline in 2020.[27] 

The impact of COVID on BRI projects is similar to the impact of COVID on supply chains and construction projects worldwide.  Constantly changing government lockdown measures differing from country to country, staff shortages at ports and border crossings, and related delays all accumulate to create significant delays in global supply chains and ultimately at a relevant construction site.  Supply chain delays have been exacerbated even further by the current global shortage of shipping containers.[28]

Indeed, in June 2020, an official from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs admitted that about 20% of Belt and Road projects had been “seriously affected” by COVID, citing restrictions on travel, government lockdowns and similar.[29]

The Beginnings of a BRI Reassessment

There are also signs that, during the pandemic, various African governments have taken steps to re-assess certain BRI projects.  In spring 2020, the Egyptian government postponed the construction of what would have been the world’s second-largest coal-fired power plant at Hamrawein.[30]  In April 2020, the President of Tanzania announced the cancellation (or at least postponement) of the $10 billion port project at Bagamoyo.[31]  In May 2020, Nigerian legislators voted for a review of all of China’s loans for all Chinese projects in Nigeria, in order to assess the terms of those loans.[32]  In March 2021, it was announced that Kenya Railways had terminated the contract with the Chinese state-owned operator of the Mombasa to Naivashi Standard Gauge Railway and would be taking over operation of that railway line, with an intent on reducing costs of operation.[33]

All of these developments may have happened anyway, despite the pandemic, but the severe disruption caused by pandemic no doubt exacerbated existing problems in projects and provided African governments an opportunity to reassess their commitments and the terms of deals previously struck with regard to BRI projects.

The future of BRI projects is unclear, as economies worldwide still make their way through the pandemic.  China’s economy recovered earlier than others, from approximately the second quarter of 2020 onwards.[34]  BRI projects remain afoot, and many will continue forward to completion.  However, the lasting impact of COVID-19 may have negative impacts on debt repayment to Chinese lenders and may lead to debt restructuring in projects which are already under financial strain. 

V.             Potential Dispute and Arbitration Trends

The combination of reduced financing from Chinese lenders, together with the delay and disruption caused by COVID-19, are likely to create problems or exacerbate any existing problems with BRI projects. This may at least lead to friction between relevant contractual counterparties, and may in some cases lead to formal dispute proceedings including arbitration.

Force Majeure, Material Adverse Change, Frustration, Hardship, Termination

The clearest example of dispute, and one which has already arisen in innumerable contractual relationships worldwide (including non-BRI contracts) as a result of the pandemic, are disputes as to whether or not the pandemic and associated government measures constitute an event of force majeure, or any similar claim such as material adverse change, hardship or frustration of contract.  Parties might also seek to simply terminate the relevant contract(s).  The question of whether any such claims are viable will be highly specific to the facts of the case and the terms of the relevant contract or other legal instrument. 

In the case of claims of force majeure, for example, the focus in any given case is likely to be whether the pandemic or specific government measures cited have actually prevented the complaining party from performing its contractual obligations, or whether the pandemic or specific government measures presented only limited disruption which did not wholly prevent the complaining party from performing its contractual obligations.  Depending upon the applicable law, the complaining party may also be under scrutiny as to the extent to which they have mitigated their actions and sought alternative ways of performing their obligations.

Price Adjustment and Renegotiation

As with any significant market disruption, parties to long term contracts might seek to trigger price adjustment clauses due to a change in circumstances (such as the disruption caused by COVID, or COVID-related legislation, or a drop in funding from Chinese lenders).  This may be particularly the case in long-term contracts containing price adjustment or renegotiation clauses, such as oil and gas pipeline utilisation contracts and large-scale utility supply agreements.  Whether or not price adjustment clauses have in fact been triggered may be another source of disputes between Chinese and African contractual counterparties.

Overspend and Delay Exposed By Reduced Financing

To the extent Chinese lenders are indeed rejecting and reducing financing for BRI projects, any cut in financing or lack of availability of top-up financing will expose overspend and delays in ongoing projects.  This may well lead to disputes between contractors on any given project as to who is to foot the bill.  To the extent any locally owned entities hold a participating interest in a project, even a minority participating interest, this may also mean direct disputes with Chinese State-owned contractual counterparties holding a majority interest.

Debt Default and Restructuring

The Africa Development Bank has predicted that, as a result of the pandemic’s economic shock (with its associated increased government spending and contraction of fiscal revenues), the average debt-to-GDP ratio for Africa is expected to climb by 10 to 15 percentage points in the short to medium term.[35]  This could lead to defaults and associated protracted debt resolutions.  That said, it has also been reported by independent researchers that Chinese lenders have granted an estimated $10.7 billion in global debt relief in 2020 and 2021 i.e. in the era of COVID 19.  This has included debt relief pursuant to the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, a G20 effort, cancellation of loans under the Forum on China Africa Cooperation, and further ad hoc debt relief.[36]

Whether, in the context of any future debt default, Chinese lenders actually enforce against security held remains to be seen.  However, it is a real concern – such that just weeks ago the Chinese embassy in South Sudan was prompted to issue a denial of intent to take control of the Juba International Airport following debt repayment difficulties for that project.[37]

Struggles with meeting debt obligations might also mean that further phases of projects do not go forward, placing partially completed projects under added strain.  For example, Exim Bank of China had originally loaned SH162 billion (US $1.482 billion) to complete the Nairobi-Naivisha standard gauge railway (SGR) line.  That loan was originally dispersed in December 2015, the railway line opened in October 2019, and repayments would commence from January 2021.  However, due to reduced travel as a result of the pandemic, the revenues generated from passenger and cargo services on this railway line have not been enough to meet operation costs.[38]  Whether linked to this or not, it was reported in December 2020 that funding from Chinese lenders will not be forthcoming for the second intended phase of that SGR line, extending from Naivisha to the border with Uganda.[39]

Further Sources of Dispute

There are other potential sources of dispute, further to those described above.  These include any disputes arising from the period of low commodity prices in 2020 in particular (although many commodities have since recovered).  Other sources of dispute may also include arbitrations commenced under investment treaties, to the extent host governments cancel projects, seek to renegotiate terms of contracts or else implement legislation to curtail or redirect any planned projects (whether under the guise of the changed circumstances caused by the pandemic or otherwise).  A lot will be determined by the latter stages of the pandemic and government responses in 2021, together with how recovery from the pandemic is handled in 2021 and beyond. 

VI.           Conclusion

The US-China trade war and COVID 19 pandemic have caused strain and disruption to supply chains and projects worldwide, and a corresponding disruption to existing contractual relationships.  Belt and Road projects are not immune from these disruptions, and while many efforts might be made to get projects back on track or to otherwise resolve disputes, it is likely to be the case that certain disputes remain incapable of resolution.  In those limited cases, international arbitration is likely to provide a useful, neutral forum for the fair, thorough and enforceable resolution of disputes.   Experienced arbitrators will be knowledgeable at navigating the complexities of delays in major construction projects together with any geopolitical elements to a case.  Expert witnesses can provide valuable input as to impacts of COVID or other external events in a given sector.  A strong legal team versed in the relevant applicable law(s) and in international arbitration procedure and strategy will be able to put forward a strong case and see it through to completion.  Finally, once an award is reached, the New York Convention (i.e. the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards) provides a robust system for the international enforcement of arbitral awards worldwide.  For observers and participants alike, there may be a significant suite of arbitrations arising out of Belt and Road projects in Africa post-pandemic, and international arbitration may be one of the critical frontiers where delays and problems caused by reduced financing and the COVID-19 pandemic are resolved.


*Partner, Winston & Strawn London LLP.  The views expressed herein are those of the author and not any organisation with which they are affiliated.  The author would like to thank international trade specialists Cari Stinebower, Mariana Pendás and Ade Johnson of Winston & Strawn LLP, and Leonnie Gilpin of Winston & Strawn London LLP, for their thoughtful comments, research and input for this paper.  This paper has been produced following the Africa Arbitration Association’s Second Annual Conference in April 2021, and the presentation of the titled topic by the author on a panel discussion of Belt and Road projects in Africa.

[2] China Africa Research Initiative, Acker K and Brautigam D, “Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending”, Briefing Paper No. 4, 2021. <Hyperlink, accessed 25 April 2021>

[3] (1) Ray, Rebecca, Kevin P. Gallagher, William Kring, Joshua Pitts, and B. Alexander Simmons. “Geolocated Dataset of Chinese Overseas Development Finance.” Manuscript submitted for publication. (2) Ray, Rebecca, Kevin P. Gallagher, William Kring, Joshua Pitts, and B. Alexander Simmons. “Geolocated Dataset of Chinese Overseas Development Finance.” Boston, MA: Boston University Global Development Policy Center. Online database. doi: 10.17605/OSF.IO/7WUXV.  <Hyperlink, accessed on 2 April 2021>:

[4] United States Census web-page, setting out “Trade in Goods with China” from 1985 to 2021.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[5] Office of the United States Trade Representative, Executive Office of the President, “Findings of the Investigation into China’s Acts, Policies, and Practices Related to Technology Transfer, Intellectual Property, and Innovation Under Section 301 Of The Trade Act of 1974”, 22 March 2018, <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[6] Office of the United States Trade Representative, “President Trump Approves Relief for US Washing Machine and Solar Cell Manufacturers”, 22 January 2018.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[7] Nomura study summary, June 2019.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[8] Office of the United States Trade Representative, “Economic and Trade Agreement Between the Government of the United States and the Government of the People’s Republic of China”, 15 January 2020.   <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[9] U.S. State Department Press Release, “Secretary Antony J. Blinken, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Director Yang And State Councilor Wang At the Top of Their Meeting”, 18 March 2021, available at: <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[10] U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control’s press release, “Treasury Sanctions Chinese Government Officials in Connection with Serious Human Rights Abuse in Xinjiang”.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[11] Financial Times, “China places sanctions on US and Canadian citizens”, 28 March 2021, <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[12] Exec. Order 13959 of Nov. 12, 2020, “Addressing the Threat From Securities Investments That Finance Communist Chinese Military Companies”. <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>  The U.S. government stated that it based these decisions on its concerns (1) about China’s military civil fusion policies, (2) about human-rights abuses in the Xinjiang region, (3) with these companies’ relationships with the Chinese military–industrial complex, (4) about those companies’ perceived efforts to acquire U.S.-origin items for the Chinese military, and (5) about Chinese activities in the South China Sea.

[13] IMF Regional Economic Outlook, October 2018, page 9 and Figure 1.17.

[14] CSIS Briefs, “Innocent Bystanders: Why the US-China Trade War Hurts African Economies”, April 2019.

[15] Financial Times, “Commodity Boom: Supercycle Me”, 16 February 2021, available at: <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[16] Cobalt being a key material used in the manufacture of (among other things) semiconductors, smartphone batteries and rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles. 

[17] Global Times (China), “China-Africa agriculture, infrastructure cooperation to be strengthened: experts”, 5 January 2021, citing China’s Ministry of Commerce.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[18] For example, Yu Jie, a senior research fellow on China at Chatham House, a UK think-tank, has commented that: “Volatile Sino-US relations and more restrictive access to overseas markets for Chinese companies have prompted a fundamental rethink of growth drivers by Beijing’s top economic planners”.  Cited in Financial Times, “China pulls back from the world: rethinking Xi’s ‘project of the century’”, 11 December 2020.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[19] Reuters, “Trade war hits BRI financings”, 8 July 2019. <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>.

[20] Cited in Financial Times, “China pulls back from the world: rethinking Xi’s ‘project of the century’”, 11 December 2020 <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>

[21] Financial Times, “China curtails overseas lending in face of geopolitical backlash”, dated 8 December 2020 <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>, citing the database compiled by researchers at Boston University’s Global Development Policy Center, database titled: “China’s Overseas Development Finance: Geospatial Data for Analysis of Biodiversity and Indigenous Lands”, <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021).  Some analysts have observed that the drop in financing may not be that severe, because the above study does not take into account commercial lending by other Chinese banks (i.e. other than the official policy banks).  See Rhodium Group, “China’s Belt and Road: Down but not out”, 4 January 2021 <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>.  However at least some drop in financing and investment in Africa has occurred.  According to a Chinese-government produced Statistical Bulletin of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment, foreign direct investment by Chinese investors in Africa did decrease significantly in 2019, from $5.4 billion in 2018 to $2.7 billion in 2019. See data compiled by John Hopkins China Africa Research Initiative, itself sourced from the Statistical Bulletin of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment: <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

[22] Forbes, “Is China’s Belt and Road Already in Retreat”, 30 January 2020, <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>.

[23] Devermont J and Chiang C, Center for Strategic & International Studies, “Innocent Bystanders, Why the US Trade War Hurts African Economies”, April 2019.

[24] Wang C, Horby P, Hayden F and Gao G, “A novel coronavirus outbreak of global health concern”, 24 January 2020.  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[25] Africa Development Bank, Economic Outlook 2021, page 4.  This was at least at the ‘better case scenario’ of the predictions published by the World Bank and Africa development Bank in April 2020, predicting GDP contraction between 2.1% and 5.1% in 2020.  Africa Development Bank, “East Africa Economic Outlook 2020: Coping with the COVID-19 Pandemic”, citing World Bank’s Africa’s Pulse (April 2020).

[26] Tourism-dependent economies suffered an 11.5% decline in GDP in 2020; oil-exporting countries experienced a 1.5% decline in GDP in 2020, other resource-intensive economies suffered from a 4.7% decline in GDP in 2020.  Africa Development Bank, Economic Outlook 2021, page 20.

[27] Africa Development Bank, Economic Outlook 2021, page 20.

[28] Bloomberg, “Shortage of New Shipping Containers Adds to Global Trade Turmoil”, 16 March 2021, <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>.  See also: Hillebrand, “Where are all the containers?  The global shortage explained”. <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

[29] Reuters, “China says one-fifth of Belt and Road projects 'seriously affected' by pandemic”, June 2020.  <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>

[30] The Economist, “The pandemic is hurting China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, dated 6June 2020 <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>.  See also Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, “Plans for second-largest coal-fired plant on planet postponed indefinitely”, 16 April 2020.  <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021> However, this particular project postponement may have been due to overcapacity (resulting in part from reduced power demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic), together with the growing trend towards renewables: Business Day, “Fate of Egypt’s coal-fired project a sign of greener times”, dated 16 April 2020,  <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>.

[31] The Economist, “The pandemic is hurting China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, dated 6June 2020. <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>. 

[32] The Guardian, “Why House of Representaitves resolved to probe Chinese loans”, 25 May 2020, <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2020>  See also The Economist, “The pandemic is hurting China’s Belt and Road Initiative”, dated 6June 2020.  <Hyperlink, accessed 25 March 2021>

[33] International Railway Journal, “Kenya Railways to end SGR contract with Afristar”, 12 March 2021.  <Hyperlink, accessed on 10 April 2021>

[34] Real GDP contracted by 6.8% in Q1 of 2020, before rebounding to 3.2% in 2020 Q2, and 4.9% and 6.5% in Q3 and Q4 respectively; meaning that real GDP grew by 2.3% in 2020.  Source: IMF Data Mapper, available: <Hyperlink, accessed 31 March 2021>

[35] Africa Development Bank, Economic Outlook 2021, page 4.

[36] China Africa Research Initiative, “Global Debt Relief Dashboard”.  <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

[37] Construction Review Online, “China negates alleged takeover of Juba Internatoinal Airport, South Sudan”, 26 March 2021, <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

[38] Business Daily, “Debt pain as payment of Sh162bn Naivasha SGER loan starts”, 5 January 2021 <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

[39] South China Morning Post, “Africa railways feel pinch of China’s belt and road funding squeeze”, 19 December 2020. <Hyperlink, accessed 2 April 2021>

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