China Merchants Group (CMG) is planning infrastructure projects in Djibouti, Sri Lanka and Belarus as it looks to take advantage of China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy.
Company chairman Li Jianhong told China Daily that the state-owned terminal operator is constructing warehouses in the Port of Colombo as well as building a livestock wharf and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Port of Djibouti.
In addition, it will invest US$500m to build the China-Belarus Industrial Park, a trade and logistics park in Belarus, and establish a logistics passage from South Asia to Central Asia and Europe, with cargo trains running from China to Europe.
The first phase of the park, located 25 km from Minsk the Belarusian capital, will be operational by the end of 2016.
Li stated that these projects could help to create a comprehensive services platform, dominated by Chinese companies, in countries and regions along the OBOR route.
It could help Chinese businesses reduce costs on new deals, in customs clearance, port services and maritime and multimodal transportation, he added.
“We are also aiming to enhance the renminbi’s status in international currency settlement through building our first Silk Road hub project in Djibouti this year,” Li continued.
CMG is the second-largest shareholder in the Port of Djibouti, having acquiring a 23.5% stake in 2012.
In a separate OBOR development, Chinese premier Li Keqiang played down inferences that the country’s defence policy in Asia is in conflict with its logistics plans.
Speaking to the Asian News Network, he stated: “China follows a defence policy that is defensive in nature. The development of our navy and the building of the maritime Silk Road do not conflict with each other.”
“China has all along called for upholding the freedom and safety of navigation in the South China Sea and other maritime areas, a right enjoyed by all countries under the law. Freedom and safety of navigation provides enabling conditions for us to expand trade and exchanges, and engage in cooperation in wider fields for peace and security on the sea.”