Unveiled by President Xi in 2013, the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) a global development strategy that aims to enhance China’s connectivity with the world. It hopes to transform the global economic market and expand China’s influence in the global landscape.

  • What is “Belt & Road Initiative” (BRI) ?
  • How will the plan be financed?
  • What makes it controversial?
  • What is “Belt & Road Initiative” (BRI) ?

The project aims to construct a massive infrastructure network of roadways, railways, ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and other relevant construction projections.

It covers a “Silk Road Economic Belt”, which involves land-based projects to link China with Central Asia and Europe; while “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” relies on the sea routes that stretch along the southern coast in China to the Mediterranean, South East Asia, Africa, and Central Asia.

Currently, the BRI is supported by more than 150 countries and international organizations. The number of trades between China and BRI countries surpassed 6 trillion dollars for four years since 2013, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Key Cooperation Areas

  • Policy Coordination
  • Facilities Connectivity
  • Unimpeded Trade
  • Financial Integration
  • People-to-people Bonds

Current Economic Corridors

  1. The New Eurasia Land Bridge Economic Corridor – connects Western China to Western Russia.
  2. The China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor – connects Northern China, Mongolia to Russia.
  3. China-Central Asia-West Asia Economic Corridor- connects western China to central and west Asia.
  4. China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor – connects Western China to the Greater Mekong sub-region such as Vietnam and Thailand and Cambodia.
  5. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – connects South Western China through Pakistan to Arabia sea routes.
  6. Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor – connects Western China to Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.

How will the Plan be Financed?

China set up a Silk Road Fund in 2014 to finance BRI’s infrastructure projects, including the six economic corridors and other construction projects.

As a China-backed development bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) also finances sustainable projects in energy and power, transportation and telecommunications and so on.

Additional financing will come from the New Development Bank (NDB) which is a Shanghai-based bank for the BRICS countries, according to the South China Morning Post.

What makes it Controversial?

As a Chinese Marshall plan to support the economic development in Central Asia, it is criticised as a form of economic domination in the BRIC countries. Analysts criticised that China attempts to cement its influence in smaller economies by massive infrastructure constructions. Supachai Panitchpakdi, former World Trade Organisation chief has said that the BRI’s projects and investments along the Mekong Delta is a tool for China to serve its own interest.

According to the Parliament of Australia, BRI is “a strategic program” that satisfies China’s interest in the Indian Ocean.

On September 27, Japan and the EU signed a deal to develop infrastructure projects to connect Asia and Europe, which is regarded as a counterattack to China.

The deal was signed by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday. It aims to invest approximately USD 65.48 billion from the EU guarantee fund, development banks, and private investors, according to Reuters.