Five years ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a trillion-dollar plan that aims to connect more than 70 countries via an overland “belt” and a maritime “road.” On October 1, the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project hosted a half-day conference examining China’s BRI, including the challenges, risks, and opportunities it poses for the United States.
Although Beijing insists that its Belt and Road Initiative has no geopolitical motives, the project has been at the center of an increasing number of political controversies, foreign and domestic, writes the Financial Times in a Special Report, citing analyses from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Five years after the announcement of China's Belt and Road, the ambitious drive to build new infrastructure across Eurasia has produced a mixed track record on key issues such as its energy footprint, debt sustainability, and environmental impact.
As demand for bandwidth grows along China’s Belt and Road initiative, Chinese involvement in technology, media, and telecommunications projects will continue to rise. Along with commercial opportunities, these projects carry geopolitical and strategic implications, paving the way for China’s technological dominance and furthering its ability to set global standards under the banner of its Belt and Road initiative.
On September 19, The European Commission released a joint communication titled "Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy," outlining EU priorities for implementing sustainable, comprehensive, and rules-based connectivity to link its transport, energy, and digital networks with Asia.
As Asia continues to modernize and develop transportation infrastructure, its demand for electricity will continue to grow. Reconnecting Asia’s new dataset of over 11,000 power plants can help shed additional light on the region’s changing energy landscape.
Five years ago, President Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative, a vast investment scheme cloaked in the rhetoric of cooperation that was designed to pave the way for China's transition to great power status. Instead, it has become a roller coaster that Beijing is struggling to control.
China's Belt and Road Initiative has expanded far beyond its original core of Eurasia and the Middle East, from New Zealand to the Arctic, Africa to Latin America and even outer space. While the BRI is not yet a challenge to the rules-based liberal order, it is a test of it.
The sheer scale and complexity of many infrastructure projects guarantee that disputes will arise. That’s why China is not only pushing projects overseas under its Belt and Road Initiative but increasingly, it is also writing new rules that advance its interests. The implications for the rules-based order—and U.S. interests—could be profound.
China's latest "16+1" summit in Sofia Bulgaria perfectly captures China’s deceptive brand of multilateralism. Bringing together many countries, it gives the outward appearance of inclusivity and consensus-building, but beneath the surface, it is fundamentally different from the multilateral practices and institutions it claims to uphold. China has yet to offer the world deep multilateralism at scale.
This Friday China will gather 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the annual China-Central and Eastern European "16+1" summit. As the gathering may help China build a bigger economic and political presence in Europe and exercise its power bilaterally under the cover of a multilateral veneer, it warrants more attention from Brussels and Washington.
Energy projects account for more than 60 percent of the roughly $62 billion in investment along the China-Pakistan Economic Corrdior. While CPEC's power plants have the potential to greatly increase access to electricity for Pakistan’s population, they could also pose serious risks to surrounding wildlife.
This report highlights recommendations on how the U.S. might effectively engage Southeast Asia's infrastructure challenges to foster greater stability and financial integration in the region.
Even if Belt and Road investment declines in the future, whether for political or economic reasons, the influence of Chinese constructors and planners on regional markets will continue to be apparent, from the alignment of high-speed railways in Indonesia to the design of residential and commercial developments in city centers.
China's President Xi Jinping promised that his Belt and Road Initiative would be a "plan in the sunshine." But the BRI's outlook is darkening as some actual and potential partners raise concerns about transparency, debt sustainability, and even China's underlying strategic aims.
A close look at the characteristics of China's port projects in the Indo-Pacific suggests that rather than resulting in "win-win" economic prosperity, they are generating political leverage, increasing Beijing’s military presence, and reshaping the strategic operating environment in China’s favor.
The tug of war between quantity and quality is now at the center of Asia’s infrastructure contest.
A panel of CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road, the littoral component of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
China’s $1 trillion push to build infrastructure across Asia evokes romantic comparisons to the ancient Silk Road, but there is a more recent chapter of history that urges caution. More than a century and a half ago, the United States was a rising power racing westward, building transcontinental railways that delivered limited benefits and exacted a high cost from society. Today, China has taken on that role.
China has embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history. It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it’s how China plans to become the world’s next superpower.
Seven CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road.
Within the last few years, Iran has demonstrated its strong political will to re-emerge as a regional transportation hub.
As Asia’s powers advance plans for a number of economic corridors to connect the continent, it is important to understand what exactly an economic corridor entails.
The New Silk Road Project will travel 10,000 miles across China’s Economic Belt from London to Yiwu to investigate the people, projects, countries, and landscapes involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative.
As Europe disappears, Asia coheres. The supercontinent is becoming one fluid, comprehensible unit of trade and conflict, as the Westphalian system of states weakens and older, imperial legacies – Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish – become paramount.
Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist. Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese cities with 34 European cities. But despite their rapid advances, these lines must compete with maritime routes that have dominated commerce between Asia and Europe since the late fifteenth century. It remains to be seen how much trade they can capture.
China is not a newcomer to the Western Balkans. Beijing is leveraging historical ties with the region to connect with willing collaborators and use its newfound political capital.
Nearly three years into CPEC, a number of projects have moved forward at breakneck speed, yet costs remain high and political rivalries still threaten to derail progress.
China's Belt and Road initiative has enjoyed relatively rapid and wide support, particularly in Asia. However, its political future depends on implementation and delivering economic results. To sustain support, China should be looking for opportunities to broaden participation.
China’s interest in the Arctic seems to be driven by potential energy, commercial, and geopolitical benefits, but each comes with a caveat.
Sitting in the Indian Ocean, Hambantota serves as a warning about the hazards of China’s global infrastructure push, which could make small economies dependent even while helping them develop. It also reveals the challenges that India, Japan and others, including the United States, face in mounting an effective response.
CSIS Reconnecting Asia Director Jonathan Hillman testifies before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission for a hearing on "China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Five Years Later."
Chinese contractors are receiving the lion's share of Belt and Road opportunities reports the Financial Times, citing data from Reconnecting Asia.
India and Japan's joint vision for an Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) could provide a strategic platform to compete with China, however, the plan currently lacks detail and will need to demonstrate commitment and the ability to deliver on both quality and speed.
Kazakhstan is a major partner in China’s multibillion-dollar “New Silk Road” project, but this new documentary by Radio Free Europe shows that their mutual cooperation does not come without some challenges.
Quotes and Quotas is a weekly digest of powerful phrases and facts that help explain Asia’s infrastructure push.
Rather than trying to sign up even more states in 2018, China should focus on delivering results, especially high-quality infrastructure, for current participants in its Belt and Road initiative.
Reconnecting Asia is tracking developments across a vast landmass that includes 60 percent of the global economy. Every day, new infrastructure projects are announced, some are advanced, and others encounter obstacles. Here is a selection of the top projects to watch in 2018.
Chinese infrastructure investment in CEE countries has served as a catalyst for regional development and deeper integration within Europe.
There has to be a balance between funding any project that a government politician thinks is a good project versus a very long drawn out review process that could take up to a decade. Somewhere in between, there is something that’s long-term economically valuable.
Broad generalizations about “Belt and Road projects,” whether positive or negative, are not particularly helpful and could even be dangerous when formulating policy. A more successful approach is likely to involve nuanced and localized policies in the same way that China has adopted localized approaches to infrastructure investment under the BRI umbrella.
The political damage Chinese investment in the CEE has created for the EU is already visible in its inability to act cohesively vis-à-vis China on trademark foreign policy issues, namely upholding the international rule of law and protecting human rights.
On November 30th the CSIS Energy and National Security Program hosted "Hydrogen and Green Shipping: Zero Emission Fuel in the Maritime Sector" to discuss the important role that hydrogen fuel technology could play for shipping in the transition to a low-carbon future.
At the onset of Beijing’s sixth 16+1 forum, China’s involvement with Central and Eastern Europe under the Belt and Road is beginning to take shape. Results on the ground have proven mixed so far, and a more nuanced local picture is slowly emerging; with some reasons for concerns but also much reassurance provided.
Beijing’s star is rising in central and eastern European nations,” reports the Financial Times
Three Americans walk the historic silk road from Xi’an to Istanbul to examine globalization and the dissemination of people, products, and ideas along the largest network of trading routes in the ancient world.
The magnitude of the Balkan Silk Road project poses a mixture of opportunities and policy challenges for countries engaging in or seeking to benefit from its implementation.
Our “Big Questions” series brings together leading scholars, former policymakers, and top industry experts to tackle critical questions. In the seventh part of this series, we asked a group of experts to comment on China's growing infrastructure investment in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).
In China, where high-speed rail and brand-new highways are visibly transforming the lives of workers and families, the potential of the Belt and road is apparent. However, outside of China, the BRI remains largely hype for now.