Assessments

China Changes Gears on the Belt and Road Initiative

Apr 26, 2019 | 05:45 GMT
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during the opening session of the Belt and Road Forum on Legal Cooperation at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 2, 2018.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks during the opening session of the Belt and Road Forum on Legal Cooperation at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on July 2, 2018. China is seeking to sweeten the pot to convince countries along the BRI route not to abandon the initiative.

(GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

Nearly six years since its inception, the Belt and Road Initiative, China's sprawling infrastructure program that spans Eurasia and the maritime sphere, has generated both enthusiasm and alarm in equal measure. The initiative's focus on infrastructure development, as well as Chinese financing options that are more enticing than those of many international institutions, has provided many cash-strapped countries with the only effective means to improve their infrastructure. From landlocked Ethiopia and Laos, to the ports of Piraeus in Greece and Doraleh in Djibouti, China has constructed and financed railways, ports and other facilities, brightening the prospects of the local economy. These undertakings are just a few of the multitude of projects in the BRI, which China is bankrolling with $70 billion in investments and $400 billion in loans. On the flip side of the coin, however, the BRI has triggered local pushback, resulting in setbacks for some projects and resistance...

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