China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a monolithic enterprise. Across seven BRI port projects in Central America and the Caribbean, we find evidence that the project partnerships between China and recipient countries vary significantly regarding construction processes and end results.
In contrast to high carbon-emitting Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) energy projects in other countries, China has supported renewable and sustainable projects in Cuba. What sets the "Green BRI" in Cuba apart from the rest of the region?
In contrast to our findings of BRI hydroelectric power projects in Bolivia, in Ecuador, we observe fewer problematic environmental impacts in the majority of Chinese projects, with several accompanied by substantial local community development initiatives.
In line with the push for environmentally friendly Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure projects and Bolivia's former President Evo Morales' "2025 Patriotic Agenda" to transform Bolivia into a regional energy hub, China has supported six hydropower energy projects in the country. The success of these projects vary, and are more dependent on domestic factors in Bolivia than the actions of China.
The broad policy goals of the Made in China 2025 (MIC25) plan have a real-world activity impact on the urban layout of the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, most notably in residential and environmental activity. Further, industrial clusters and companies in the zone appear to be guided by the MIC25's ten core industries.
Since 2017, Russia has become increasingly involved in the affairs of the Central African Republic (CAR). A recent agreement between the two countries granted the Russian mining company "Lobaye Invest" exclusive mineral rights to ore deposits throughout the country. Activity in these sites has resulted in observable environmental degradation in the mining permit areas.
Expansion of copper mining is driving economic growth in Peru, which coincides with increased Chinese demand and investment in copper mining. Chinese involvement in Peru's mining sector varies by project and is often obfuscated through intermediary company involvement in mine acquisition or construction.
Ecuador's desire to become a global exporter of copper coincides with increased Chinese demand for and investment in copper mining. Both copper mines in Ecuador are owned by the same Chinese company. The inauguration of mine construction and activity has led to negative environmental damage and forced relocations of indigenous communities at both mines.
Zhangjiang High-Tech Industrial Park predates the 2015 inauguration of Made in China 2025 (MIC25). However, development in the park reaffirms MIC25 goals. Activity in the park reflects the policy priorities of MIC25: talent recruitment, foreign investment, and green development.
The Donbas has historically been the industrial heartland of Ukraine, serving as a center for industry and coal mining. The war in eastern Ukraine that began in 2014 led to the destruction of many forms of critical infrastructure and prohibited the maintenance of hundreds of coal mines. Destruction of this infrastructure has not only disrupted life in the region, but also set the stage for potential ecological damage.