【英语中国】中国中东欧战略棋局遇阻 Ukraine a setback in China’s eastern Europe strategy

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2014-3-4 08:46

小艾摘要: Just three months ago, China was in diplomatic overdrive to establish a grand plan for economic and political cooperation with central and eastern Europe (CEE) at a summit with 16 regional leaders in ...
Ukraine a setback in China’s eastern Europe strategy
Just three months ago, China was in diplomatic overdrive to establish a grand plan for economic and political cooperation with central and eastern Europe (CEE) at a summit with 16 regional leaders in Bucharest.

Since then, more than $19bn in Chinese investment and loan pledges have flowed to the region, outstripping in scale any previous phase of bilateral economic engagement, according to research by Grison’s Peak, a London-based merchant bank. The $19bn plus in pledges since November accounted for the lion’s share of a total of $22.2bn in signed loan and investment deals between China and the region for all of 2013, the Grison’s Peak figures show.

But “plans cannot keep pace with changes” as a Chinese phrase puts it. The revolution in Ukraine has thrown up a series of delicate questions for Beijing, which had a “strategic partnership” with the government of ousted president Viktor Yanukovich.

Ukraine was a key plank in Beijing’s CEE strategy. Of the estimated $19bn in investments and loans announced since November, $8bn was destined for Ukraine. In addition, most of a further $10.9bn for Romania, $783m for Macedonia, $507m for Hungary and $306m for Serbia was in the form of Chinese investment and loan pledges, according to data collected by Grison’s Peak.

Ukraine has several key attributes from Beijing’s point of view. Logistically, it is a gateway to China’s big markets in western Europe as Beijing ramps up rail freight exports along the “iron silk road”. Its farmland, already the object of ambitious leasing schemes with China, could help secure Chinese imports of grain. Strong military ties include Kiev helping to build engines for Chinese fighter jets and co-operating on other projects as part of the strategic partnership.

For these reasons and others, Beijing had extended about $10bn in loans to Ukraine even before the $8bn in Chinese investments promised at the end of last year. A key question now is how much of an impact the revolution may have on these commercial arrangements and on Beijing’s broader plans for engagement.

“I don’t see that this development is likely to change China’s investment policy very much,” said Rana Mitter, professor of history and politics of modern China at Oxford University. “It seems to me that China does not have the ideological commitment that Russia has to a particular view of Ukraine.”

“China’s major issue these days is to encourage other countries to serve its security and trade interests, not to pay much attention to the form of those governments per se,” Mitter added.

This type of pragmatic approach would be broadly consistent with Beijing’s nuanced diplomatic stance during the protests against Yanukovich’s government. The foreign ministry hedged its bets, supporting Kiev’s efforts to “preserve stability” but expressing respect for the “people’s choice”.

China’s main preoccupation now will be protecting its economic interests in Ukraine, said Bill Bishop, author of the Sinocism China Newsletter. But it will tread carefully so as to avoid antagonising Russia, which views Ukraine as within its sphere of influence.

“I assume Beijing does not want to be at odds with Russia and [Russian president Vladimir] Putin over this, nor does it want a ‘victory’ for the west [US and EU] in a colour revolution,” Bishop said.

“Yes, Beijing will want to protect their economic interests but is there even a new government with whom they can negotiate?” he added. “Ukraine clearly needs cash and Beijing could play a role in a bailout, but I doubt they would do that given the uncertainty and Russia’s concerns.”

The deals struck during Yanukovich’s visit to China in December were for investments in energy, infrastructure, ports, airlines and food. The largest was with Wang Jing, a Chinese entrepreneur, who signed a $3bn agreement for the first phase of a deep water port construction project in the Crimean peninsula.

The port would be designed to redistribute rail freight flows from the east to Europe by cutting 6,000km off the current shipping routes. A second phase in this envisaged project, costing $7bn, would be focused on grain elevators, crude oil reserves and natural gas production bases, according to Grison’s Peak.

However, with armed men seizing Crimea’s regional parliament and government buildings on Thursday amid fears that separatists could split the region from Ukraine, the outlook for Wang’s Crimean port investment looks bleaker.

Some doubt may also attend the closeness of the strategic ties that Kiev under Yanukovich had built up with Beijing, analysts said. Much in this regard depends not on Beijing but on the attitude of Ukraine’s new leaders.

Nevertheless, in other areas of its CEE strategy, China is showing no sign yet of scaling back the momentum. In one example this month, Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, met with Li Keqiang, his Chinese counterpart, and announced that they had agreed on the financing of a Budapest to Belgrade rail project which they had proposed at the China-CEE summit in Bucharest last November.

Orban appeared to be keen on seeing further Chinese investment in infrastructure in CEE countries. “Highways and high-speed railways in the North-South direction are still not completed… and central European countries lack resources. We believe we have cooperation opportunities with China in this respect,” Orban was quoted in China’s official media as saying in Beijing.

James Kynge is the FT's Emerging Markets Editor and an Associate Editor.


总部在伦敦的商业银行Grison’s Peak研究发现,此次会晤之后,中国向中东欧国家承诺的投资和贷款总额已超过190亿美元,规模大于以往双边经济合作中的任何一个时期。Grison's Peak的数据显示,2013年全年,中国与中东欧国家总共签署了222亿美元的贷款和投资协议,而11月份之后这批超过190亿美元的承诺资金占了绝大多数。

但正如一句中国俗话所说,“计划赶不上变化”。乌克兰革命给中国政府提出了一系列难题,因为北京方面与被罢免总统维克多?亚努科维奇(Viktor Yanukovich)的政府拥有“战略伙伴关系”。

在中国的中东欧战略中,乌克兰是一个关键部分。去年11月以来公布的约190亿美元投资和贷款协议中,有80亿美元是和乌克兰签署的。此外,Grison’s Peak获得的数据显示,在向罗马尼亚提供的109亿美元、向马其顿提供的7.83亿美元、向匈牙利提供的5.07亿美元和向塞尔维亚提供的3.06亿美元中,大部分都是以中方承诺投资和放贷的形式提供的。



牛津大学(Oxford University)当代中国历史与政治教授拉纳?米特(Rana Mitter)表示:“我认为乌克兰局势的变化不太可能显著影响中国的投资政策。在我看来,中国不像俄罗斯那样,对乌克兰的看法存在着意识形态因素。”



Sinocism China Newsletter新闻简讯的作者利明璋(Bill Bishop)表示,中国的当务之急是保护自身在乌克兰的经济利益,但中国会小心行事,避免对抗俄罗斯。俄罗斯认为乌克兰在其势力范围之内。

利明璋称:“我认为北京方面不愿意在此事上与俄罗斯和总统普京(Vladimir Putin)起冲突,也不希望西方(美国和欧盟)在颜色革命中获胜。”



这个港口项目旨在重新布局东方至欧洲的铁路货流,它可将目前航运路线缩短6000公里。Grison's Peak表示,项目二期预计投资70亿美元,将建设配备有升降机的粮食储备区、原油储备区和天然气生产基地。



但在其中东欧战略的其它领域,中国没有表现出放慢脚步的迹象。例如本月,匈牙利总理欧尔班?维克托(Viktor Orban)与中国总理李克强会晤,宣布就布达佩斯至贝尔格莱德铁路项目的融资问题达成一致,该项目是他们在去年11月的布加勒斯特中国-中东欧领导人会晤上提议的。




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