The ongoing development of the Belt and Road Initiative has brought not only new opportunities for Europe’s economic growth, but also social benefits to European citizen, experts said.
Over the past four years, European countries such as Serbia, Poland, Hungary, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and the Czech Republic have seized the opportunities of cooperation and achieved improving infrastructure construction and accelerated economic development, observers have pointed out.
Like a golden key can open any door, the Belt and Road Initiative brought momentum for the revival of the economy in Europe.
China COSCO SHIPPING’s investment in the Greek Port of Piraeus has been helping transform the port into a more important transport hub at the crossroads of Asia, Europe and Africa, making it a shining star in modern maritime Silk Road.
Troubled by the debt crisis, Greece has been struggling in an economic slump. China’s commitment to the Piraeus project has been hailed for its positive contribution in Greece’s effort to move forward.
“We are confident in the future development of the Piraeus port,” President of the Piraeus Port Authority Fu Chengqiu told Xinhua, standing in his office overlooking the panoramic view of the port.
Cooperation between China and Poland was consolidated in new areas for the common need of green development. In June 2016, China Everbright International Limited acquired Poland’s leading independent solid waste treatment company NOVAGO for 123 million euros (134 million U.S. dollars), the largest single Chinese investment in Poland so far.
CEFC, a Chinese privately-owned Fortune Global 500 company has emerged as one of China’s biggest investors in Czech, with the total investment of more than 14 billion yuan (2.1 billion U.S. dollars). In four years, CEFC has done a series of deals in different areas including financial services, energy, manufacturing, aviation and tourism, providing 5,000 local jobs.
“Belt and Road is of course a very important initiative, and we see how it has developed over the last couple of years. It has a much wider approach now in terms of the modes of transport it covers, but also in terms of the countries it covers,” said Gunnar Wiegand, managing director of Asia and the Pacific at European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU’s diplomatic service.
SOCIAL BENEFITS CREATED
From the Chinese-built Pupin bridge over the Danube River in Belgrade, Shanghai Electric’s energy project in Malta, Chinese Railway Express riding in the Eurasian continent, to the ocean liners straight to the Mediterranean, with the expansion of China-Europe cooperation, more and more jobs are being created, and the lives of European citizens are improving.
Vamvakidis, the 60-year-old manager, is one of the 1,500 Greeks employed at the Piraeus port. “At first, we worried that China’s investment would hurt local jobs, and after three years the worries have vanished,” he said.
According to a report released by the Greek think-tank, Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, by 2025 at least 31,000 job positions will be created by the Piraeus project.
In April 2016, China’s HeSteel Group acquired Serbia’s loss-making steel plant. By December that year, the steel plant reversed the seven consecutive years of losses and made profits. While production and sales increased, workers’ wages also grew steadily.
Liugong Dressta Machinery has a special meaning for Malgorzata Bielica, a Polish technical expert. Her father and her used to work for a company preceding Liugong Dressta. In 2012, when she learned that the company was going to be acquired, Malgorzata, like other Polish employees, had some concerns.
However, not only could they continue to work there, the work content and treatment of employees changed for the better. “I have been working at Liugong Dressta for 35 years,” Malgorzata said proudly.
According to the data provided by Liugong Dressta, the company has provided more than 1,200 job opportunities in the region, with a total of more than 230 million zloty (about 66 million U.S. dollars) of various accumulated taxes and fees contribution to the country between years 2012 and 2016.
Liu Lijuan, a business counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Poland said Chinese enterprises have provided about 15,000 jobs in Poland, of which more than 80 percent are Polish employment.