June 23rd Highlights

A China-DPRK Economic Corridor in the making and China’s presence at Russia 2018.

Xi Jinping and his World Cup ambitions for China on display in 2012 (Source: China Daily, 2012)

Academic Exposure: The Belt and Road and its Transit Countries

Evgeny Vinokurov and Taras Tsukarev take a look at seven actual and potential trans-Eurasian overland transport corridors primarily based on customs data from China, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Expert View: Why Are they Giving us Money?

This article by Nick Miller about the rail line between Belgrade and Budapest is an interesting read about Chinese investment practices and supply-based business thinking as coined in the saying “build it and they will come” (or in Chinese: “if you want to get rich, first build a road” 要想富先修路). The article also looks at some of the governments’ motivations behind the project.

Biggest News: Kim goes to China, part 3

On Wednesday, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un concluded yet another state visit to China, following his much anticipated meeting with the American president in Singapore. Both sides expressed their wish for the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula to preserve the friendly relations between the countries and to safeguard the stability of the region and the world. Mentioning the anniversary of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform and opening up policies, Xi Jinping seems to invoke the hope of similar reforms in North Korea.

“This is a new historical stage for the development of North Korean socialism, China supports its economic and social development,” Xi Jinping is quoted as saying. By portraying Kim as a new Dengist reformer, there is indeed a sort of signaling going on. At the same time, Deng’s China and Kim’s North Korea differ significantly, so it seems to be nothing more than a rhetorical device. Nonetheless, Kim’s visit to the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and a subsidiary of the Beijing Infrastructure Investment Company may be an early sign that the Belt and Road may yet get another economic corridor.

To Read over Breakfast: China at the Russia 2018 World Cup

With the world cup well underway (Go Belgium!), a lot of Russia 2018’s official sponsors are Chinese firms like Wanda, Mengniu, Hisense, Yadea, and Vivo. The economic fallout of the FIFA’s scandal became visible after companies like Sony steered clear of this year’s tournament. Professor Simon Chadwick’s analysis goes as follows:

“The Chinese view of ethics and governance is different to western standards, and it is very easy for Chinese companies to say ‘Fifa has moved on’. And, that they were not backing the Sepp Blatter-era regime and are supporting a clean Fifa under Gianni Infantino [who replaced Blatter in 2016].”

Not well-known in the West, the Chinese firms have seized the opportunity to brandish their goods like mobile phones and dairy products to fans from all over the world. While still a long shot from the Chinese president’s aim of turning China into a “world-class soccer country” (足球一流强国) by 2050, the World Cup in Russia is an excellent way for Chinese business to reach a global audience.

Be sure to check out the China Soccer Observatory.

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