Valentin Krüsmann

PhD student
Center for East European and International Studies


Zentrum für Osteuropa- und internationale Studien (ZOiS)
Mohrenstr. 60
10117 Berlin

De:link//Re:link Project:

Identifying and Explaining Differentiation in Chinese Approaches to Foreign Infrastructure Provision across Projects, Space and Time

Valentin Krüsmann

Research Interests

Project Description

The project seeks to examine the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Chinese infrastructure engagement in eastern Europe and Eurasia and to identify three underlying Chinese approaches to BRI project implementation, characterized as developmental, commercial and statecraft. While the underpinning goal of developmental approaches is to enhance welfare and economic growth in recipient countries, commercial approaches seek to generate economic returns. Statecraft approaches to infrastructure engagement seek to generate China-centric political returns. Based on a variance of infrastructure approaches, the project examines the factors which determine how particular infrastructure approaches are deployed in certain political, economic, and institutional environments, and how Chinese actors realign their approaches over space and time. In other words, the project investigates the effect that factors, including host country agency, levels of host country EU integration, geo-political considerations, project funder and contractor ownership structures, as well as domestic economic factors within China, such as industrial overcapacities and natural resource demands, have on the types of BRI approaches deployed. In order to identify and explain variation in approaches, the project zooms in on large-scale China-involved infrastructure projects in Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Serbia. These countries stand out as major recipients of Chinese-built infrastructure in the region and exhibit considerable variation as to the nature of Chinese-built infrastructures, indicating the existence of distinct approaches to infrastructure provision. The project seeks to capture the evolving nature of the BRI and to understand the contextual sensitivity of the initiative and its implementation in the region.


Valentin Krüsmann is an economist focused on international development who specialises in China’s economic engagement with Eastern Europe and Eurasia. He joined ZOiS in May 2021 as a researcher in the project China, the EU and Policy Space for Development in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Krüsmann holds an MSc in Development Studies from SOAS University of London and a BSc in Economics from the Vienna University of Economics and Business. He has also studied at Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea, and at Yunnan Normal University in Kunming, China. Prior to joining ZOiS, he supported the China division of the European External Action Service in Brussels, the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit) in Beijing, and a China-focused research consultancy in Berlin. He has also led young students and research delegations on fact-finding programmes to contentious regions around the world, including Moldova and the Transnistrian region. He speaks English, German and Chinese.