China's Long Arm - The Silk Road in Europe



WDR Press Release: 
In 2014, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Duisburg's inland port; since then, Duisburg has been on many Chinese maps of Europe. This is because many cargo trains from China have been arriving in Duisburg. There was already talk of an economic boom for the city and the region, however this year, the hopes have fallen apart...
Duisburg, like Liège or Genoa, for example, is a European bridgehead of the "New Silk Road" initiative, which is intended to help turn China into a world power and a worldwide economic and political player by 2049. The Chinese struggle for influence and power in Europe is reflected above all in massive investments in logistics and infrastructure. The One Belt One Road Initiative centrally includes railroads, ports and airports that are influenced or completely controlled by China. Proponents hope that this will lead to economic growth, while critics warn against excessive dependence on China.
The Silk Road plan already seemed to be becom a reality fast- until one Corona lockdown followed another in China, disrupting international trade routes and supply chains, until the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine shook Europe and the world. Pandemic and war threaten to disrupt Beijing's plans, as well as those of its partners in Europe. The gigantic infrastructure investments in ports, container terminals, rail networks and logistics hubs for land, water and air connections are both a challenge and a promise for the European partners.

"The Story" goes to three key locations of the Silk Road initiative in Europe: Duisburg with its inland port, Liège with its cargo airport and the new gigantic Alibaba logistics center, and Genoa as the center of Ligurian deep-sea port cooperation. The documentary shows the interlocking with the mega-customer and mega-supplier China and asks what perspective the "New Silk Road" has in times of zero-covid-strategy and Chinese-Russian partnership. What does the new situation mean for the companies in Europe that have been counting on cooperation with China and the regions that have been hoping for an infrastructural wunder? Who has and who needs a plan B? What might it look like? Or is it perhaps already too late? Will the hoped for Chinese blessing become a curse? 


Written & directed: Michael Mueller
Editing: Jonathan Stranghöner
Camera: Katharina Wetz, Paul Kraneis, Alex J. Moll, Andreas Fröhlich, Patrick Zeller
Line Producer WDR: Alexander Hack
Production Manager (Zeitsprung Pictures): Len Reddemann
Production Manager (WDR): Gertrudis Wilms
Unit Manager: Robert Sheldon
Narrator: Simon Roden
Archives: Radio-Television Belge De La Communaute Française (Rtbf), Associated Press, Shutterstock, Stop Alibaba & Co
Post Production: Act Headquarter Media
Post Production Supervisor: Ninette Botha
TV Editor: Beate Schlanstein
Executive Producer: Till Derenbach, Michael Souvignier

"China's Long Arm - The Silk Road in Europe" is a co-financed commissioned production by Zeitsprung Pictures for the WDR.