What China owns in Belarus
The visit of the President Xi Jinping to Belarus was marked by the promise of the new billion dollar Chinese loans to our country. In addition, a number of joint loan agreements were signed. For example, there was a loan on the reconstruction of the substation Minsk-North, financing of the investment project Electrification of the Maladzechna - Gudagay railway road", acquisition of 18 electric locomotives by the Belarusian railroad company...
In general, the list of objects reconstructed or under construction involving Chinese investors is impressive. Here is modernization of power plants and cement plants, the construction of pulp and "cardboard" plants, reconstruction of roads, electrification of the railway. The Chinese are taking part in the creation of the Belarusian national system of satellite communication and broadcasting, and even in the construction of the Astravets NPP. And there is also the Belarusian-Chinese Industrial Park and numerous joint ventures like BelDzhi.
Usually investors invest in something that will work and be profitable. Does this mean that the facilities in which they have invested partly belong to them? For example, the Belarusian BelAZ owns 54.8% of the BelDzhi shares, and the Chinese corporation Geely owns 35,6%.
Oddly enough, the Chinese are not asking for share in their investment in the Belarusian sites, says economist Leanid Zaika. But they still have their interest.
Leanid Zaika: "Today, China is saturated with dollar supply. And if we talk about power plants, turbines and so on, it is all "related" projects - they give money, but we buy the Chinese turbines, which may later explode. The Chinese give money so that we then buy their equipment for it."
Thus, the Chinese give us money for the reconstruction and modernization of Belarusian enterprises on condition that we have to acquire only the Chinese equipment. So they support their producers. We will still have to return the money with interest though.
According to Mr Zaika, the Chinese are not overly eager to invest in bulk here, buying factories and land, because Belarus is too far away from China. In this sense, Chinese investors are interested in the Russian Trans-Baikal. However, the Mr Zaika did not rule out the possibility of the Asian businessmen acquiring a part of Belaruskali.
Leanid Zaika: "It is realistic: China needs fertilizers, the population is growing rapidly, the areas for planting are limited. They need potassium, and they can invest into it - give us US dollars. "It all depends on the cost of the enterprise, but they can easily spend $10 billion on shares."
He also warned: "Selling the potash plant is a terrible anti-national deal!" At least because the smiling Chinese are able to "protect" the acquisition.
Leanid Zaika: "The tactic they use is this: first, they put finger inside, then put the leg, then another one, and then there is the National Liberation Army of China, like in Tajikistan, which squeezed out everyone who prevented them from managing the land they had purchased."
However, today in Belarus, there is only one thing which is totally owned by the Chinese - the hotel Beijing in Minsk.