Building Bridges: Post-Pandemic Opportunities for Cooperating on Sino-EU Infrastructure Initiatives

As the world recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic and the global order is shifting, new opportunities are arising for cooperation and enhanced coordination on international infrastructure development. This EIAS Briefing Paper examines the potential and risks for collaboration between China and Europe on their respective connectivity initiatives, and assesses potential challenges, pitfalls, as well as pathways to accomplish this. This is done by (1) illustrating the potential and risks of China’s Belt and Road Initiative; (2) explaining the impacts and changes that have emerged since the pandemic; (3) examining the other actors’ connectivity and infrastructure initiatives, including the EU’s Global Gateway; (4) listing the modes for cooperation; and (5) recommending channels through which to overcome challenges associated with coordination on infrastructure initiatives.

In January 2023, China opened its borders for the first time since their closure in early 2020 due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, the international order has changed significantly against the background of the war in Ukraine, growing US-China tensions, pandemic supply chain stagnation and its related global economic downturn. This leaves policymakers and investors wondering how all of this will affect China’s long-term global initiatives such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). United Nations (UN) countries, including China, are still working towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and infrastructure initiatives, such as the BRI, can be vital instruments in helping the world achieve the targets set in the UN’s 2030 Agenda, primarily towards SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure)

Author: Cora Fagan, EIAS Junior Researcher

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