China to Build $5 Billion EU Beachhead in Belarus
As premier Li Keqiang visits Germany amid economic tensions between China and Europe, Bloomberg’s Aliaksandr Kudrytski reports on China’s part in building a new city near the Belarusian capital of Minsk. The development will offer tax breaks, “powerful” infrastructure, and the convenient location of “Europe’s last dictatorship” between Russia and the EU.
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko allotted an area 40 percent larger than Manhattan around Minsk’s international airport for the $5 billion development, which will include enough housing to accommodate 155,000 people, according to Chinese and Belarusian officials.
[…] Lukashenko, 58, a former collective farmer, has sought to cultivate allies outside the former Soviet Union and reduce his reliance on Russia since the U.S. and EU intensified sanctions on him and other Belarus officials for jailing political opponents after the 2010 election that gave him a fourth term.
[…] “Belarusian authorities want, a bit naively, to turn their country into China’s bulwark in Europe,” Alexei Pikulik, head of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies, an independent research group based in Vilnius, Lithuania. [Source]