The Chinese government offered the Belt and Road Initiative to improve transport connectivity along the Silk Road of the ancient Tang dynasty. The initiative has also become a branding exercise for not-for-profit construction and investment that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was already engaged in.
The number of countries in the Belt and Road (BRI) continues to expand, from 75 at end of June 2018 to 117 by mid-October. The latest additions are mostly developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. However, construction and investment trends remain unchanged. All BRI members, new and old, were hosting Chinese companies before the BRI was launched. Construction still outpaces investment as the main activity in these countries, and state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still the dominant actors.