Guardians of the belt and road


This report from the UK think tank IISS examines the internationalisation of China’s private security companies.

Chinese private security companies are going global to protect the country’s assets and citizens, in the sometimes unstable countries linked to Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative. Following the build-up of infrastructure and investment projects along China’s extensive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), private security companies from China are also increasingly going global – to protect Chinese assets and the growing number of Chinese nationals living and working in countries along the BRI, in sometimes unstable regions. Out of the 5,000 registered Chinese private security companies, 20 provide international services, employing 3,200 security personnel in countries like Iraq, Sudan and Pakistan. The impact of this newly developing Chinese activity abroad is analyzed in this MERICS China Monitor. Chinese private security companies’ international activities pose a challenge to European interests as they are often largely unregulated and their security staff are often inexperienced in dealing with serious conflict situations and combat. EU policymakers, thus, are called upon to encourage and assist Beijing to pass laws regulating Chinese private security companies’ activities overseas.

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