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.
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China has embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history. It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it spans three continents and covers almost 60 percent of the world’s population. 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.
It is tempting to believe the old Silk Road is being revived by locomotives. The first rail service from Amsterdam to China began this month, expanding a network that China has made a signature feature of its Belt and Road Initiative. Such services, spanning continents and regions, have grown significantly in recent years, but recent research suggests that like other aspects of the BRI, their economic importance is less game-changing than advertised.
To better understand the opportunities and challenges posed along China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the members of The New Silk Road Project will travel 10,000 miles across China’s Economic Belt to explore the people, projects, countries, and landscapes involved. We expect to depart from London and Rotterdam, two western termini of the Belt and Road, in June 2018. Over 60 days, we will travel to Yiwu, a city in East China that houses the world’s largest wholesale market and aspires to send more of its goods along the BRI’s overland routes. We will focus on two key corridors: the New Eurasian Land Bridge and China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor, attempting to visit over two dozen ‘Silk Road’ hubs along this fast-evolving axis.