Cross-border infrastructure is the next frontier for the economic integration of the Indo-Pacific. As liberalization has driven down regulatory barriers to trade and investment, today it is physical linkages-the road, rail, shipping, energy, and telecommunications connection between economies–which are the principal challenge for regional integration. Indeed, the Indo-Pacific is plagued by a range of ‘infrastructure gaps’, which have arisen as governments have struggled to supply infrastructure at the pace and quality required by their high-speed growth. Estimates suggest that $1.5 trillion of new investment per year, every year, will be required to unlock the region’s developmental potential. Building better infrastructure within and between economies is a top priority for all governments in the Indo-Pacific.
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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.
Seven CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road.