Launched in 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) strives to improve infrastructure, trade, financial integration, and people-to-people bonds across more than 80 countries. Its digital dimensions are far-reaching, including fiber optic cables, 5G networks, satellites, and devices that connect to these systems. On February 5th, the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project hosted a discussion about these developments and their implications for U.S. economic and strategic interests.
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As demand for network bandwidth grows among Belt and Road (B&R) countries, China will exert its technological dominance and set global standards through centrally-coordinated fiber-optic roll-outs, the establishment of data centers, and the deployment of communications, positioning, and observation satellites. Since the original “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “Maritime Silk Road” initiatives, the Chinese government has launched programs specific to the technology, media, and telecommunications (TMT) sector, including the “Information Silk Road” and the “Spatial Information Corridor” to further its ambitions for tech superiority and informational control.