The New Silk Road, launched by China in 2013 as an ambitious infrastructure project to connect Asia, Europe and Africa, has evolved over time.
Today it represents a new model of international cooperation, especially with developing countries, and focuses on three main sectors: energy, health and finance.
The main territorial focuses and main beneficiaries of the investments have become Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (mena) and Western Asia.
During the pandemic in 2020, the New Silk Road demonstrated how the infrastructure network and related political and economic relationships could serve as a mechanism for the delivery of medical services and humanitarian aid. From here the idea of a New Health Silk Road developed and strengthened.
As for the recent investment projects in the energy field, however, the following are worthy of note:
1.The Power of Siberia Gas Pipeline project resulting from Sino-Russian cooperation. It involves the construction of a 3,000 km natural gas pipeline that crosses the regions of Irkutsk and Amur and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in northeast China for a value of 55 billion dollars. In December 2019, the first phase of the project was launched and the first supplies of Russian gas to China through the pipeline began. New gas supply agreements were also concluded at the meeting between Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in China on 4 February 2022 during the Beijing Olympics.
2.The purchase in 2021 of a large lithium mine in Zimbabwe (Arcadia Lithium Project) by Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt, a Chinese producer of new energy metals, for 422 million dollars.
Finally, financial cooperation has increasingly become a fundamental pillar of the New Silk Road, aiming to reduce the gap between the Chinese yuan and the US dollar as the currency used in international payments. On this point, the currency swap agreements between China and some countries adhering to the New Silk Road (to compensate for the non-convertibility of the renminbi), the foreign issue of bonds denominated in renminbi and the digitalization strategy of the Chinese currency can be reported. Furthermore, in 2022 the People's Bank of China launched an App Wallet for the digital yuan capable of making purchases of goods and services and money transfers in peer to peer mode. The project is in the pilot phase in 12 selected cities. Already in the summer of 2021, several lotteries were held for the distribution of 200,000 digital envelopes, containing 200 digital yuan each, for a total of approximately 6.25 million dollars, to be spent in selected shops participating in the initiative.