China involved in 30% of global infrastructure: study

China is widely admired for the speed at which it has urbanised and built out its national road and high-speed rail network, but a new study shows it is involved in nearly a third of all global infrastructure work as well, measured by value.

Projects around the world with Chinese contractor involvement make up 16% of the global total by project number, but the size of China-sponsored projects means this corresponds to 31% of the total global infrastructure project value, which is $17.1 trillion as of 2017, says the report from Timetric’s Infrastructure Intelligence Center (IIC).

The report says Chinese contractors are involved in 1,034 projects outside China, the majority in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Of those projects, 40% are rail schemes.

China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, which aims to facilitate the flow of between China and the West, is a major driver of international projects; 111 large-scale OBOR infrastructure projects are currently tracked by the IIC, with a combined value of $688bn.

Asia, due to its proximity to China and with a number of fast growing nations, receives the bulk of investment and involvement from Chinese companies.

According to the IIC, Asia is home to 430 projects valued at $1.2 trillion, in which China is at least partially involved. Many of these projects are related to the OBOR initiative, with Pakistan in particular the site of 43 OBOR construction projects, as currently tracked by the IIC.

Russia has also drawn Chinese investment and involvement. The largest project taking place in Russia is the Moscow-Yekaterinburg HSR Railway Line, with the first section of the project being a 770km section, running from Moscow to Kazan, valued at $30bn.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, projects with Chinese company involvement accounts for 31% of the regions’ total infrastructure construction value. They are involved in 277 projects at a total value of $363bn.

China’s expanding influence has made some uneasy, says Timetric.

Its Globalisation and Construction Survey has 31% of respondents saying that they saw China to be the greatest foreign threat to their construction businesses, with the US a close second at 25%.

Africa appears to welcome Chinese investment, however: 88% of respondents from Africa see Western Europe as their greatest threat to business and not China.

The full report is available from

Image: On the train from Nairobi to Kisumu, in Kenya (Michael Branz/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA-2.0)

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