- The Belt and Road Initiative is one of China’s most ambitious projects.
- It involves partnering with dozens of countries around the world through trade and infrastructure projects, such as shipping lanes, railroads, and airports.
- Supporters say it’s a way for China to invest in emerging markets and strengthen ties. Critics say this is a way for China to use money to leverage political gains and increase its global power.
- The US is now trying to create a viable alternative to the project by increasing investment in Asia. Whether that will work, though, is not clear.
- Learn more about the mega-project here.
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China is undertaking what it considers the largest project of the century — linking itself with more than 100 countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania through trade.
The main focuses of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) — also known as “One Belt, One Road” — are in infrastructure, transportation, and energy. The initiative was first announced in 2013, and is seen to be President Xi Jinping’s pet project.
Most BRI deals involve China lending vast amounts of money to other countries to build new railroads, shipping lanes, and other ventures in those countries. Investment from China alone in the project is estimated to be between $1 trillion and $8 trillion.
Proponents of the BRI say it’s a way for China to invest in emerging markets and strengthen its ties with them. However, the inner workings of the BRI are shrouded in secrecy, and some projects have already been abandoned due to host countries being unable to pay back their loans.
Critics also say that by creating these loans, China is engaging in debt-trap diplomacy — a strategy of extracting political concessions out of a country that owes it money.
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