Focus on Belt and Road
Dahua Technology in Discussions to Provide Surveillance Tech for Libya’s Airports
On February 15, the regional director for Dahua Technology, a Chinese state-backed video surveillance company, met with representatives from Libya’s Airports Authority headquarters in Tripoli to demonstrate the application of its closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems. Dahua Technology proposed providing the Airports Authority, which oversees 10 international airports and seven domestic airports in Libya, with technical and logistical support for airport security and monitoring.
Photo: Lianyungang Port, East China's Jiangsu Province
The two sides agreed to create a joint team that will carry out field visits to Libyan airports and develop specific work plans. Dahua’s surveillance cameras have raised risk concerns by several governments, leading, for example, to the U.S., UK, and Australia all taking action against the use of Dahua technology in government facilities and critical infrastructure. The significant damage to physical infrastructure caused by armed clashes in Libya, and the centrality of civilian airports to the country’s ongoing power struggle, have made airport security a key focus of stakeholders both inside and outside the country. Some international and national airports are not currently operational, and flights can be cancelled at short notice. Libya’s main airport, Tripoli International Airport, has been closed intermittently since 2011.
Chinese Explosive Company Signs 13-Year Deal with Namibian Uranium Mine Owned by China National Nuclear Corp and Iranian "Legacy Investor"
On March 1, an overseas subsidiary of a Chinese explosive and equipment supplier, Anhui Jiangnan Chemical Industry, won a nearly $700 million contract to provide blasting, ore loading, and transportation for the Rössing Uranium mine in Namibia, with a contract term through December 2036. For Jiangnan Chemical, the deal provides an opportunity to expand in southern Africa and transition from manufacturing to service provision. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), via its subsidiary China National Uranium Corporation Limited (CNUC), owns a controlling share in the mine’s owner, Rössing Uranium (a 68.62% stake, which CNNC bought from Rio Tinto in 2019). Other notable investors in the Rössing mine include the Iranian Foreign Investment Company (IFIC), a state-owned enterprise that owns a 15% stake in the mine, and is referred to as a passive “legacy investor” by the mining company.
Chinese Port Companies Court Singapore as China Seeks to Expand Maritime Posture
Recent reporting highlights the growth in Chinese port company activity in Singapore, which includes the establishment in Singapore on February 20 of the first overseas office of China’s state-owned Shandong Port Group Co., Ltd. (SPG). The expanded footprint in Singapore – the world’s largest transshipment hub – is said to be part of an effort to increase SPG’s global connectivity. The new entity, known as Shandong Port (Southeast Asia) Company, will have a regional focus and is tasked with business development, international logistics and e-commerce, and identifying investment opportunities. SPG has four port holdings (in addition to multiple other shopping and logistics subsidiaries) in Qingdao, Rizhao, Yantai, and Bohai Bay. Subsequently, on February 27, the Tianjin Port Group (the port’s operator), Tianjin Port Development Holdings Co., Ltd., and its subsidiary Tianjin Port Holdings Co., Ltd. were also in Singapore as part of a joint business development trip discussing partnership opportunities with a variety of maritime actors and signing strategic cooperation framework agreements.
China Construction Bank (CCB) Agrees to Finance Brcko-Bijeljina Highway After EBRD Declines Project
On February 27, reports announced that China Overseas Engineering Company and China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group signed a $190 million contract with Autoputevi RS to plan and construct the 17 km Brcko-Bijeljina section of the highway that will eventually link Republika Srpska with Serbia. The project will be financed by a loan from China Construction Bank (CCB) with a fifteen-year repayment period and a three-year grace period. Initially, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was approached to fund the project, but it was turned down by the bank as the road was deemed non-vital. In July 2022, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) won a $339.5 million contract from JP Autoputevi RS to construct the Vukosavlje-Brcko highway. As reported, the 33-kilometer (km) section is part of the larger project to connect Banja Luka with Serbia.
Multiple Investments in Indonesia Announced, Expanding China’s EV Supply Chain Footprint
On February 28, Zhejiang Hailiang Stock Co., Ltd. announced an investment of $849 million in a high-performance copper foil manufacturing plant located in the Java Integrated Industrial and Port Estate. Hailiang Stock will establish a new entity, likely to be called Indonesia Hailiang New Energy Materials Co., Ltd. to implement the project. On February 27, Jiangsu Lopal Tech. Co., Ltd. announced a $290 million investment in a lithium iron phosphate plant in Central Java which will produce cathode material for batteries. On February 24, China’s Lygend Resources & Technology Co. Ltd. signed an agreement with South Korea’s POSCO Holdings to build a nickel-mixed hydroxide precipitate plant tin Sulawesi to make nickel sulfates. The plant will be completed by 2025 and is expected to make 1.2 million electric vehicles (EV) worth of cathodes. On the same day, in its first overseas expansion, Tianshan Aluminum Group said that it would take a 100% stake in Indonesian miner PT Intl Tambang Makmur for $30.25 million through a wholly owned Singaporean subsidiary and would include the acquisition of three bauxite mines.
Legislator suggests national innovation center of rare earth in Inner Mongolia
China should build a national technological innovation center for rare earth new materials in Baotou, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which is home to the world's largest rare earth reserve, a deputy to the ongoing National People's Congress (NPC) has suggested. This will elevate China's capacity in independent innovation in the rare earths industry and help fend off the impact of restrictions on imports of the critical minerals imposed by the US and its allies. Yan Hongwei, deputy head of the Baotou Research Institute of Rare Earth's Hangzhou branch, who is also a deputy to the 14th NPC, submitted a motion to this year's NPC, China's top legislature, proposing to establish a national-level innovation center of rare earth in Baotou. According to Yan, the center can gather talents and resources in the rare earth mining industry from all over the world and make quick breakthroughs in strangleholds, which will help reduce costs and maintain China's leading position in global industry. Baotou is dubbed the "capital of rare earth mining" as it is China's largest raw material supplier of rare earth. The city accommodates 10 national-level innovation research platforms for rare earth technology. China is already spending big to upgrade and strengthen its rare earth supply chain. In 2021, the regional Inner Mongolia government said it had spent 12.9 billion yuan ($1.9 billion), a record high investment amount for the region, in 41 new rare earth magnet projects since October 2021, according to media reports.