An Alpine Architectural Marvel
Beijing Hotel Minsk is located in the Republic of Belarus. Integrated with Chinese architectural elements like pitched roofs, white walls and grey tiles, the hotel is like a pearl elegantly nestled in the city. It is not only a major “Belt and Road” project invested and constructed by Chinese companies, but also the first overseas hotel designed, built and operated by China. As the leading enterprise during the construction of the hotel, Beijing Uni- Construction Group (BUCC) invested in and took charge of construction of the project as well as developed several residential district projects in the local area, winning reputation in Belarus and accumulating successful experience for expanding its overseas business.
Mission Impossible in 25 Months
In May 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Belarus for a three-day visit at the invitation of Alexander Lukashenko, president of Belarus, and stayed in the Beijing Hotel Minsk. The hotel is also the venue for holding China–belarus Regional Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum.
The hotel is impressive, integrating traditional Chinese architectural elements into modern design and combining the local flavour of Belarus. To complete this project, BUCC had overcome numerous hardships such as harsh climate and technical difficulties. The construction of the project commenced in March 2012 and finished within 25 months. Once regarded as an impossible mission by locals, the project is deemed a marvel by the Chinese enterprise.
The project is located in a park that commemorates the 40th anniversary of the victory of World War II, which has historical significance to Belarus. The challenge was to deal with the trees and turves without damaging the park's original appearance in a cold environment. Wang Dongyu, general manager of BUCC'S Overseas Construction Engineering Department, decided that the 69 trees located within the area should be transplanted, while the 20 centimetre-thick turves should be packed up and delivered to a landscaping company and then paved on the ground again after the project's completion. This shows China's construction enterprises' respect for countries along the Belt and Road.
Belarus is a high-altitude country with long winters. The average temperature of the five coldest months in a year is 18 degrees Celsius below zero during the day and 30 degrees Celsius blow zero at night. Given two years to complete a project that would have taken three years, BUCC was faced with unprecedented challenges brought by a tight schedule, challenging tasks and low temperatures. To complete the project on time, more than 1,000 construction workers worked simultaneously. In the course of construction, resistance heating wire was used to heat concrete to obtain ideal compressive strength. Before pouring concrete, resistance wire was bound with rebar. After pouring the concrete, the resistance wire was charged with electricity for 72 hours to ensure that the concrete would maintain the same character as that at normal temperature when the surrounding temperature was 30 degrees Celsius below zero.
In addition, BUCC had tackled problems such as conversion of different standards of the two countries, completion of complicated dispatch procedures and long period of purchasing and transportation of supplies, to guarantee the construction progress. To ensure the project be delivered on schedule, none of the construction workers had taken leave and all persevered in their work during two years.
When Beijing Hotel Minsk delivered on schedule on April 28, 2014, Anatoly A. Tozik, former vice prime minister of Belarus, who had always been concerned about the progress of the project, was amazed at the Chinese construction enterprise's efficiency and also approved Chinese standards. The completion of the project caused quite a stir in all sectors of Belorussian society and its high efficiency and good quality were spoken highly of by the local government and construction industry. Wang Dongyu said that the project displayed BUCC'S first-class construction ability. It has since become a landmark building symbolising the friendship between Belarus and China and marking the development of the Belt and Road, laying a good foundation for the company to expand its overseas construction business.
Friendly Cooperation Serving Local Socioeconomic Development
As an early municipal-level State- owned enterprise to undertake projects in Belarus, BUCC now has become one of the most influential Chinese enterprises in the region. When talking about BUCC, Wang Dongyu
said that BUCC'S team has established good relationships with the local government, embassy, the commercial department and local Chinese enterprises. Thanks to implementation of several projects, the management team comprised of both Chinese and Belorussian staff who cooperate and communicate effectively with local suppliers and subcontractors of construction, energy, inspection, and design. Since they have understood and adapted to local norms and standards, they could convert different standards held by the two countries and handle problems that come up during construction.
By virtue of effective communication, cooperation and building techniques, BUCC promotes local social and economic development for countries along the Belt and Road, achieving progress through cooperation. Currently, Beijing Hotel Minsk has become one of the largest and most high- end five-star hotels in Belarus, housing commercial buildings, offices and recreation centres. In 2015, BUCC won the bid for the construction of China–belarus Industrial Park. In accordance with the trend of economic globalisation, the park vigorously develops the advanced manufacturing industry and gradually completes functions such as living services, scientific research and medical treatment. In the future, the industrial park will be built into an international city featuring ecology, liveable environment, prosperous business, vitality and innovation, and play a significant role in promoting economic development of the two countries.
In addition to commercial projects that promote local economic development, BUCC has undertaken livelihood projects that would improve the quality of local people's life. The “G” section of the Seventh Ulan Bator Residential District project undertaken by BUCC is a large welfare-oriented public housing project to be established in Sukhbaatar. As part of Ulan Bator's plan for rebuilding shanty areas, it is highly valued by the local government and aims to curb increasing congestion and pollution in Ulaanbaatar.
In terms of issues concerning overseas business like project selection, friendly cooperation, promotion of local economy and brand building, Wang Dongyu holds that four aspects should be considered: enterprise's competitive advantages, overseas market deployment and development strategy, local government policies and market situation, and economic and social benefits of the project. Taking the Swan Residential District project for example, Wang said, “Before investing in the project, we have analysed and studied politics, economy, natural environment and project information of multiple countries, and also conducted indepth exploration of Minsk government's free allocation and relevant preferential policies for construction market and invested in construction land. In consideration of our company's overseas business development strategy, we finally decided to make our first investment in Belarus. This project helped us establish our company brand in Minsk and also paved the way for cooperation between the two sides.”
Through construction of buildings that promote local economic development and improve quality of life, BUCC has accumulated experience in participating construction
of overseas projects and Belt and Road projects. Wang Dongyu summarised that cooperation, in-depth research and study, efficient communication, outstanding teams, and measures suiting local conditions will all support the smooth projects. However, the enterprise should also try to avoid overseas investment risks and pay attention to changes of political and economic situations, as well as differences between the two countries in system, technical standards, language, culture and law. Therefore, the enterprise should strengthen management on social responsibility risks of overseas projects, gain in-depth knowledge of local politics, laws, culture, religions, customs and interested parties' demands, and enhance risk recognition and assessment, to support decision making of overseas business. The enterprise should fulfil its social responsibility, adhere to integrity management, respect local customs, protect natural environment, secure rights and interests of local staff, better localisation, actively participate in community construction, and establish its corporate image as a responsible Chinese enterprise.
Beijing Hotel Minsk
The hotel is located between the Svisloch River and Red Army Street in Leninski District, embraced by the river on two sides and surrounded by lush trees. Based on traditional Chinese architectural design, the hotel integrates Chinese elements into its modern design. The façade of the hotel is dominated by black, white and grey and built with a modern simple design, which highlights Chinese ink wash painting. Meanwhile, the use of red, a traditionally popular colour in China, and colour of local birch forest indicates inheritance of traditional Chinese culture and pays homage to local culture.
The project is located in China–belarus Industrial Park, 25 kilometres to the east of Minsk and neighbouring Minsk National Airport. The Phase I project covers a planned site area of 29.23 hectares and a total building area of 28,000 square metres. The Business Centre covers an area of 6,255.6 square metres, and the trade show centre covers 21,930 square metres. The Business Centre was among the first groups of projects to be constructed in the industrial park and was the first one to be completed. Acclaimed as No.1 Building of China–belarus Industrial Park, the business centre features characteristics of local architecture and will become a landmark building of the Phase I project. Second Tendered Section of Phase I Construction Project of China–belarus Industrial Park
Lobby of Beijing Hotel Minsk
Banquet Hall of Beijing Hotel Minsk
Entrance to Beijing Hotel Minsk