It's been 10 years since the Belt and Road Initiative was launched. Over the past decade, 152 countries and 32 international organizations have signed up to the Initiative. China envisioned the BRI as a framework connecting countries around the world through trade, investment, infrastructure development, and people-to-people exchanges.
While the BRI is best known for mega infrastructure projects such as motorways, bridges, ports and train terminals, its impact goes much deeper. The principle of opening up trade routes and encouraging exchanges, which the BRI represents, has seen cultural, technological and financial connections created across continents.
Foreign businesses have been able to use BRI routes to reach into China, the world's biggest consumer market. And Chinese businesses have brought innovation, jobs and technologies to regions which had previously been isolated from the benefits of globalization.
One of the major challenges of the renewables transition is how to store energy from windy and sunny days to meet surges in demand. Chinese company Huaneng is working on a solution by installing battery modules. Find out how the system is working in the English county of Wiltshire.
Together with wind, solar has been one of the biggest drivers of clean electricity growth needed to shift economies away from fossil fuels. CTG is one of the world's biggest energy companies and its investment near the Spanish city of Segovia is typical of projects it is backing across Europe.
To understand some of the local benefits of Hungary's largest solar power plant near the southwestern city of Kaposvar, listen to engineer Mate Fucsko, who has been able to stay near his family while earning a comfortable living supervising the China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation project.
Greece is famous for sunshine. But meeting the energy needs of so many scattered locations has been a challenge. That's where solar power comes in. A Belt and Road signatory, Greece benefited from Chinese investment to build these panels near the city of Naousa.
Twenty-seven countries in Europe have signed up to the Belt and Road Initiative with flagship projects such as:
- The Port of Piraeus in Athens, which serves 16 million passengers per year
- The Peljesac Bridge which connects the two parts of Croatia
- A railway linking Serbia and Hungary, cutting travel time between the two countries' capitals in half.
On the cultural side, LuBan workshops – named after an ancient Chinese craftsman – are offering vocational training courses from engineering to cooking.
You can see more of CGTN's coverage of the Belt and Road by clicking the icons in the map below.
BRI in real life
Although the term Belt and Road may not be familiar to many European citizens, the project's impact nevertheless touches their lives every day. That's why CGTN Europe chose 11 items, as the Belt and Road enters its 11th year, to illustrate the range of areas that have benefitted. Play our interactive game and collect these items as you go, discovering the scope and depth of the project.
We had a lot of fun choosing the brands and items to include in our game. We wanted to find a balance that represented the two-way nature of trade and also reflect how the goods and services exchanged between Europe and China have evolved over the past decade.
Cars and consumer technology remain today the biggest tangible symbols of the relationship, so they feature heavily on the list. But the rise in tech services as well as traditional products that have been exported for centuries also find a place.