Browse our analysis section for news and articles on topics such as China's Belt and Road Initiative (OBOR), the Competing Visions of Japan, India, and other regional powers, and the stakes for U.S. policy.
On June 28-29, government leaders representing 85 percent of the global economy convened for the fourteenth G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan. In the wake of the meeting, the CSIS Simon Chair in Political Economy hosted experts including Japan's ambassador to the G20, Koji Tomita, to discuss major outcomes, including China's endorsement of the G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is courting private sector investors to jointly fund infrastructure projects, Nikkei reports.
The Asian Infrastructure Investment bank will begin lending in local-currencies in India, Indonesia, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The move mitigates the risks foreign exchange fluctuations pose to private-sector companies investing in emerging markets' infrastructure, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
It is critical that public-sector officials responsible for infrastructure development—both at the local and national levels—commit to transparent practices to secure sustainable financing mechanisms.
Pakistan will slash spending on BRI projects in the next year as the government struggles to balance its finances. These budget cuts arrive amid growing recognition from Beijing of the complications involved with Pakistan and other nations incurring heavy debt to finance BRI projects, reports Nikkei.
Newly seated World Bank President David Malpass says the multilateral organization is working hard to ensure Beijing improves transparency in lending to countries involved in its Belt and Road Initiative, Nikkei reports.
Japan's MUFG Bank will set up a $924.4 million fund - the largest-ever such fund by a Japanese bank - to invest in infrastructure projects overseas by the end of 2019. The fund will target renewable energy and transportation projects, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Forming the backbone of China’s “Maritime Silk Road,” investments in African ports provide a gateway to the region’s trade and economic development, empower China with political leverage and clout on the continent, and provide a foothold for People’s Liberation Army Navy activities.
At this week's Group of 20 meeting in Japan, finance ministers and central bankers are expected to sign sustainable infrastructure investment guidelines to help prevent developing economies from taking on dangerous amounts of debt, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Critics of China's Belt and Road Initiative caution that the project stokes corruption, harms the environment, creates financial dependencies and extends Chinese military power. Writing for The Washington Post, Jonathan Hillman tackles five myths that have been fueled by the ambiguity of China's ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
Cambodia and other nations across Southeast Asia are emerging as vital staging grounds for a new form of power struggle between China and its rivals. The growth of Beijing's vast Belt and Road Initiative since 2013 has galvanized the U.S. and its allies -- including Japan, India and Australia -- and prompted them to draw up infrastructure and security programs of their own, writes Gwen Robinson for the Nikkei Asian Review
Belt and Road recipients are pushing to re-negotiate loan terms with Chinese banks, potentially shifting more of the BRI's financial burden on Beijing. As China's investments grow in Belt and Road countries, it risks losing its bargaining power as its sunk costs rise, reports Nikkei.
The biggest commercial bank in Japan is one of the latest Asian lenders to consider a ban on funding for new coal-fired power stations. Asian banks are recognizing the global threat from climate change and pulling back financing for the world's most carbon-intensive energy source, Nikkei reports.
Beijing is striking a conciliatory tone abroad to repair ties with Belt and Road partners, particularly in Southeast Asia where negotiations with Chinese companies over halted infrastructure projects are restarting, Nikkei reports.
As this year's host of the Group of 20 countries, Tokyo is taking the opportunity to push a novel idea: quality infrastructure investment, or QII, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
ASEAN members plus China, Japan and South Korea agreed to create a framework insuring private funding for infrastructure projects of up to $1.5 billion under a new program to be called the Infrastructure Investors Partnership, reports Nikkei.
Thailand's prime minister, Prayuth Chan-ocha, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Laos and China to accelerate the construction of a much delayed high-speed rail line between northeast Thailand and Vientiane in Laos, reports Nikkei.
If China's push to build a massive, continent-spanning economic zone is to yield true benefits for all involved, Beijing must shift its policy course and embrace internationally accepted norms for the BRI, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
China’s hostile economic practices, military expansion, and coercive political and ideological tactics in Africa should not be ignored. However, establishing a clear distinction between detrimental and essential BRI engagement is crucial to fostering development, building common ground with China, and expanding the global market.
China announced on Saturday that two more non-Asian nations, Switzerland and Peru, have signed on to its Belt and Road Initiative. As Asian Belt and Road participants view with initiative with increasing skepticism, China is looking elsewhere for supportive partners, reports Nikkei.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Italian PM Giuseppe Conte agreed to uphold Japan's four conditions for high-quality infrastructure during a bilateral summit in Rome. Italy recently signed on to China's Belt and Road Initiative, sparking concerns the country would fall prey to "debt-trap diplomacy," reports Nikkei.
Over the next 15 years, more hard infrastructure is projected to be built around the world than currently exists. As our infrastructure is transformed, so will be the economies it fuels, the regions it connects, and the global commons it underpins. These trends are too powerful and potentially beneficial for the United States to stop, and too consequential to ignore.
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Slovakia later this month, where he plans to offer Eastern European leaders Japanese-financed infrastructure investments. Abe is expected to raise concerns about China's so-called debt-trap diplomacy, presenting Japan's approach as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative, reports Nikkei.
Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's political party has won a super majority in the country's parliamentary elections. The president's party ran on an anti-corruption message that stressed the need to investigate Chinese-financed infrastructure projects that have dramatically increased the country's debt-burned, reports Nikkei.
China Communications Construction Co. executives on Wednesday reiterated the infrastructure company has not given up on the multibillion-dollar East Coast Rail Link in Malaysia, on which development work has been suspended for months amid doubts over the project's financial viability, reports Nikkei.
Pakistan has diverted around $171.6 million meant for joint infrastructure development projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship effort under China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), into other construction plans. This signals that Islamabad may be distancing itself from Beijing and the BRI, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Japan plans to propose new guidelines on development assistance, tentatively titled the "G-20 principles on quality infrastructure investment,” when it hosts the Group of 20 summit in June. The proposal, which will frame anti-corruption and fiscal sustainability as key principles of infrastructure investment, is seen as an attempt to check China’s Belt and Road Initiative, reports Nikkei.
To effectively leverage the infrastructure financing opportunities provided by the Belt & Road Initiative, countries must examine their own development strategies and build domestic skills and institutions, argues Ganeshan Wignaraja for the Nikkei Asian Review.
China's Belt and Road Initiative is transforming Nepal's domestic infrastructure through new roads, hydropower projects, and other industrial projects. Nepal has accommodated Chinese political interests to keep Chinese investments and exports coming, reports Nikkei.
While on a state visit to the Philippines, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad told journalists that if countries borrow money from China they cannot pay back, the country "may be under the control of the lender." The statement was read as a warning to Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte, who accepted a $9 billion credit line from China in 2016, reports Nikkei.
China convenes its top political advisory bodies, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and the National People's Congress this, this week. Analysts expect the meetings will address rising political backlash against China's Belt and Road initiative, reports Nikkei.
Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi, the de facto leader, convened a forum for foreign businesses in the impoverished Rakhine State, urging attendees to invest in infrastructure throughout the country's rural areas. With national elections in 2020, Suu Kyi has been touring outlying regions in Myanmar promising development initiatives to shore up support for her ruling party, reports Nikkei.
Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, promised to invest up to $100 billion in India's economy in the coming years, including in areas such as infrastructure, energy, and refining. The Crown Prince's visit to New Delhi follows a stop in neighboring Pakistan, where he signed $20 billion worth of investments in the country's flagging economy. The Crown Prince's next stop? Beijing.
China's $2.5 billion offer to bailout Pakistan as its foreign exchange reserves dry up disappointed Islamabad, which reportedly sought $6 billion from Beijing. Pakistan's balance of payments crisis could threaten the $62 billion Beijing has invested in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, reports Nikkei.
David Malpass, U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the World Bank, told media sources on Wednesday that he hopes to cut the multilateral lender's loans to China, which he believes is too wealthy to receive large loans from the World Bank. Malpass also criticized China's Belt and Road infrastructure initiative, saying that the BRI "leaves countries with heavy burdens of debt," reports Nikkei.
The trial of Najib Razak, Malaysia's former prime minister, over corruption-related charges tied to the 1MDB development fund is scheduled to begin on February 12. The prosecution is expected to probe whether China-backed infrastructure projects signed by Najib's government were used to bail out 1MDB, reports Nikkei.
One of China's Belt and Road Initiative's biggest environmental impacts may be on the world’s water. Should BRI projects strain the world's water resources, the initiative may carry important, and perhaps negative, implications for global and local conflicts over shared water resources.
In the Maldives, government officials are examining official documents to determine the amount owed to China after reports emerged that the debt could be as high as $3.2 billion, a substantial increase over $1.3 billion in officially recorded Chinese loans.
Saudi Arabia plans to build Pakistan's largest oil refinery near Gwadar port, the flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The oil refinery, part of Saudi Arabia's new commitment to invest $15 billion in Pakistan over the next three years, could fuel competition with Beijing for economic leverage given China's significant investment there under CPEC, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
With an eye toward illuminating current issues, this report draws from examples throughout history of how states use foreign infrastructure to advance strategic objectives. It shows how China is updating and exercising tactics used by Western powers during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and how these issues, and the strategic implications they carry, are likely to intensify in the coming years.
In his first international trip of the year, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison visited Vanuatu to pledge high-quality infrastructure investments and economic development just weeks after China signed a deal to forgive $2.87 million of the country's debt and provide fresh financing for road upgrades.
The power generating arm of Thailand's oldest industrial group, B. Grimm, has issued 5 billion baht ($152 million) in "green bonds" to raise funds for further investment in its renewable energy business, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
On his trip to Asia, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will play up Washington's efforts to boost infrastructure investment in the region at a time when China is doing the same with its Belt and Road Initiative, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
The Thai government has approved four infrastructure megaprojects, worth a combined $14 billion, in an effort to rev up new investment in the country's Eastern Economic Corridor.
When it was launched, China heralded its Belt and Road Initiative as a “golden opportunity” to revitalize the region, but today it has raised serious concerns about debt sustainability, drawing scrutiny from the IMF. One way for Beijing to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the IMF's concerns is by partnering to develop more sustainable and transparent lending practices.
Japan drafted a plan to offer greater assistance for infrastructure development overseas ahead of a key summit with China next week, as it prepares to pursue joint projects with Beijing in third countries, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
Pakistan has formally asked the International Monetary Fund for financial assistance amid pressure to meet external debt obligations, reports the Nikkei Asian Review. IMF help will require absolute transparency on the nature, size, and terms of the country's debt, including its BRI investment from China.
Chinese capital flowing into the Belt and Road Initiative projects surged to a record $20.1 billion in 2017, even as the country's overall outbound foreign direct investment fell. That record will likely be beaten again this year, reports the Nikkei Asian Review.
With the approval of Congress, the U.S. moves forward with a $60 billion investment fund to boost foreign development funding. According to the Nikkei Asian Review, this is an effort to counter China's expanding influence under the BRI.