Five years into China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, the United States is trying to respond to Xi Jinping’s infrastructure-building spree. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Reconnecting Asia Director Jonathan Hillman discusses the craving for more alternatives to Chinese offers and the window of opportunity it creates for the United States.
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Most countries along the BRI have urgent infrastructure development needs and many are considered too high-risk for traditional investors, the result being that their governments have been highly receptive to Beijing’s offers of financing, building, and operating infrastructure projects.
A special report by Nikkei Asian Review and The Banker which leverages data from the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project has found that China’s Belt and Road initiative holds considerable promise for countries in need of infrastructure investment along its route, however, participation has been hampered by challenges ranging from a lack of participation by local workers and banks to unmanageable debt hangovers.
“I really like China” a diplomat told us a few months ago, “they are the only ones around with a plan for the 21st century.” That plan – China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – has, however, raised ample concern, from Asia all the way to the Berlin and Washington.
China’s high-speed rail ambitions are running off the tracks, the Financial Times reports in a special investigation that draws from Reconnecting Asia’s database. Several projects have been suspended or canceled, “stoking suspicion, public animosity, and mountains of debt.”