Analyst: China's influence in Bosnia economic not political


Bosnia and Herzegovina is often mentioned as a battlefield of the great powers’ interests, from Washington to Moscow and Ankara, while Beijing is often omitted in those assessments, although its presence in the country is quite visible, mostly through investments.

Bosnia profited the most in the region from Chinese investments, according to the ambassador of that country in Sarajevo. Bosnian and Chinese companies signed a series of contracts, and the value of those in the sector of infrastructure is estimated at around EUR 1 billion.

China has invested in many large projects in this part of Europe, including the coal-fired power plant Stanari, whose construction cost over a half billion of Euros, and construction of Block 7 at the Tuzla power plant.

China also provided an investment fund of EUR 10 billion for projects in the central and east Europe. Bosnia’s authorities have been showing interest since 2014 in the financing the construction of the Corridor Vc, Sarajevo-Belgrade railway, and Adriatic-Ionian motorway, but with no success.

Bosnia was approved in 2014 an amount of USD 8 billion for preparing those projects but to this date, it is still unknown if and how the amount has been utilised.

Beijing is apparently prioritising the economic influence of China over the political, contrary to some other great powers, said university professor, Anto Domazet.

“Those are the investments based on credit arrangements. Those are not entrepreneurial foreign investments, where investors take risks but credit sources where entity governments provide guarantees. And that’s one more way to avoid the complex system of coordination in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Domazet explained.

China, as a big country and large market, is seen as a chance of attracting foreign tourists in Bosnia. The first step towards that goal would be the establishment of a direct flight to and from that country.

“Initialled agreement on establishing the air traffic with China would be a chance to connect certain destinations, which are interesting to Chinese tourists,” said Sarajevo International Airport General Manager, Armin Kajmakovic.

Over the past year Bosnia and Herzegovina exported to China the goods worth some EUR 19 million, but at the same time, it imported from China EUR 212 worth of products.