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On the New Silk Road


Jacob Mardell travels from Brussels to Beijing via central and eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Central Asia to investigate the state of play of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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Eating hot pot in the North Macedonian mountains, a group of Sinohydro workers is roughing it.

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The Bar-Boljare highway is welcomed by some, but for many here its costs are too high.

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In Serbia, Beijing is building infrastructure and operating steel works—and seems genuinely welcome.

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In Serbia and the Western Balkans, ordinary people hugely appreciate the convenience of using the new Chinese-built bridges and highways. The political impact is palpable.

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The Great Stone industrial park outside Minsk currently feels like an empty monument to political ambition, but with Beijing’s backing it still has potential. 

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Subsidies are boosting rail freight along the New Silk Road, but it’s too soon to say if they will pay off.

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Our author has embarked on a journey to investigate how China’s BRI is being implemented on the ground.