Not dead yet: The future of China’s belt and road
China’s Belt and Road Initiative is as controversial now as it was a decade ago. Yet its legacy endures. Even as Beijing cuts funding to debt-saddled BRI states, the West is emulating Xi Jinping’s flagship development plan. The BRI is not dead but is quietly mutating into something much bigger and – whisper it quietly – perhaps better.
China is so beset by domestic crises – sluggish retail sales, a wheezing economy battered by president Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy and a property sector on life support – that it is easy to overlook the key external challenge facing Beijing. Next year, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) marks its 10th birthday. Few will celebrate, either at home or abroad.
Beijing’s flagship development project started life with the simple premise of boosting trade with central Asia, only to morph into a grandiose plan to redraw the global trade map in China’s image.