Descriptions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) often center on China’s agency in other countries—its investments, loans, and even soft-power (e.g., cultural exchange). However, Azerbaijan’s Baku International Sea Trade Port in Alat, a retroactively labeled “BRI” infrastructure project, is anything but centrally controlled by China.
Drawing from academic literature, evaluations, and technical consultations, this report analyses human rights and environmental impacts at the project and macroeconomic level to give recommendations on how to mitigate the potential risks infrastructure investment can pose for achieving equality, human rights, and the environmental sustainability.
Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy vision, the Belt and Road Initiative, is a long-term strategy to make China the center of the global economy. Can China deliver on its ambitious plans? CSIS Reconnecting Asia Director Jonathan Hillman explains what's happening with China's Belt and Road Initiative.
Through means, motive, and opportunity, China's expanding economic footprint and political avenues of influence in the Western Balkans have deepened and widened with profound implications for the region’s economic development and long-term dependency.
By traveling the length of China's 4,300 km border with Russia, Ankur Shah aims to understand what China's Belt and Road Initiative means for daily life along on the border.
Supporters of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor have long argued that the initiative would spur development and improve Pakistan’s macroeconomic fortunes. As Pakistan faces its thirteenth IMF bailout in the last thirty years, it is clear that without serious reforms, the debt incurred to fund CPEC could do more economic harm than good.
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.
Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia are locked in intense competition to dominate the age of 5G telecoms, writes The Financial Times, citing data from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Jonathan Hillman joins Jane Nakano and Nikos Tsafos for the CSIS Energy and National Security Program's Energy 360° Podcast to look at the importance of energy projects in the BRI, changing expectations from BRI partners, and what defines a successful BRI.
Even as Huawei faces resistance in Western airwaves, it is racing ahead under the world’s seas in a commercial contest that could eventually provide China with strategic advantages.
The signing of an MoU during a March 22-24 by Chinese president Xi Jinping has made Italy the first G7 nation to join China's sprawling Belt and Road Initiative, but Rome will be wise to devote sustained long-term resources to the negotiation, implementation, and follow-up of whatever comes out of these memoranda to avoid the mistakes of other BRI partners.
This episode of the ChinaPower podcast discusses the Belt and Road Initiative's current projects and financing, including recent backlash and scrutiny from partner countries, as well as the approach the U.S. is taking toward the initiative in the lead-up to the second Belt and Road Forum.
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's Belt and Road (BRI) has taken a beating, but its central feature of big infrastructure projects will remain recognizable for years to come.
Xi Jinping wants to repair the Belt and Road brand—as 37 world leaders gather in Beijing—but promises for reform will require further monitoring. CSIS’s Matthew Goodman and Jonathan Hillman go over some key questions ahead of China’s Second Belt and Road forum.
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.
On April 25, China will convene leaders from 37 countries for the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Here is some of Reconnecting Asia's top analysis of China's Belt and Road Initiative ahead of the summit.
China’s Global Energy Interconnection (GEI) initiative is an ambitious vision for transforming the global energy system that pairs a pitch for climate leadership with Beijing's industrial policy priorities. As China makes a play for green leadership in global energy governance, the U.S. needs to present a positive agenda of its own for the clean-energy transition.
Xi Jinping arrived in Italy today to sign a memorandum of understanding for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a development that has already drawn criticism from the U.S. Washington’s frustration is understandable, but it plays right into Beijing’s hand. Publicly criticizing Italy’s decision gives unwarranted weight to vague documents that, like the BRI itself, overpromise and underdeliver.
Italy is preparing to become the first of the G7 group of industrialized nations to endorse China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but what does this mean? James Kynge, the FT’s global China editor, looks at the main implications citing data collected by the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Geostrategic concerns must be carefully managed so that infrastructure remains a cooperative domain of regional politics. If governments make poor infrastructure choices, connectivity may divide rather than integrate the twenty-first century Indo-Pacific.
Southeast Asia’s strategic importance for China, the United States, Japan, and others, and the advantages that will come with control over data flows, mean that the region’s decisions on digital infrastructure and internet governance will have implications that far transcend business outcomes.
In 2015, Chinese president Xi Jinping debuted a plan at the UN to knit the world's energy grids, currently fragmented along national lines, into a single global network. In reality, Xi's ambitious plan far outstrips what can realistically be achieved in the coming decade given current economic, technical, and political constraints.
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.
China's Digital Silk Road is ambitious and includes fiber optic cables, 5G networks, satellites, smart cities, and the devices that connect to these systems. On February 5th, the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project hosted a discussion about these developments and their implications for U.S. economic and strategic interests.
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 2017, China surpassed South Korea to become the world’s second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) importer. In a few years, it might overtake Japan. But how is China securing its LNG needs?
The European Commission has become increasingly critical of various Chinese investments within the EU, fueling an ongoing debate within Europe about investment screening. While the EU released a framework for foreign investment screening implicitly aimed at China in November 2018, the debate has exposed cross-cutting divisions within Europe. Looking ahead to 2019, we should not expect a clear resolution anytime soon.
Should inter-Korean cooperation result in the re-joining of North and South Korea's railways, it could connect the peninsula through China and Russia to a rail network that spans Eurasia. However, such connections will require a long and costly modernization process to fully integrate the systems in a commercially viable way, complicating the future of these potentially transformative links.
North and South Korea are pushing railway cooperation as an engine for advancing inter-Korean relations. Railway connections could integrate the peninsula into a network that spans the continent, marking a significant diplomatic and geopolitical accomplishment. However, significant obstacles still remain.
China envisions a vast global network of trade, investment, and infrastructure that will bring the world closer to Beijing. To better understand how China's vision is playing out on the ground, The New York Times examined nearly 600 Chinese-financed projects and the driving forces behind them, citing data from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Pakistan faces a financial crisis and has secured a bailout package from Saudi Arabia, but surprisingly, it has yet to secure a similar package from China. Pakistan expected a decent bailout package from China, which is often called Pakistan’s all-weather friend, but China likely wants more detailed negotiations. Five reasons help explain China’s surprising response.
Washington’s shortsightedness is pushing its own competitors—the world's largest nuclear power and the second-largest economy—closer together.
Five years into China’s massive Belt and Road Initiative, the United States is trying to respond to Xi Jinping’s infrastructure-building spree. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Reconnecting Asia Director Jonathan Hillman discusses the craving for more alternatives to Chinese offers and the window of opportunity it creates for the United States.
On November 14, the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a body created by Congress to monitor and investigate national security and trade issues between the United States and China, published its 2018 Annual Report. Reconnecting Asia’s data and analysis are used to help discern China’s objectives for the Belt and Road Initiative and to highlight potential challenges and opportunities for the United States.
A milestone agreement on trade and economic cooperation signed in May 2018 represents an important step forward for the relationship between the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
China's Belt and Road is commonly visualized as a train carrying commerce across Eurasia. But a train does not adequately capture BRI’s significance or scope. Instead, a Chinese flag is a better representation. Whether it is China’s intention or not, the increasing connectivity the BRI brings comes hand in hand with exposure to Chinese culture.
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.
The China Road Project, a team of researchers interested in China’s role in global development, will be traveling 60,000 kilometers over land and sea to investigate China's Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a foreign policy concept and global infrastructure plan announced by Chinese president Xi Jinping in 2013, to help close the information gap and shine a light on the multi-trillion dollar initiative.
Five years ago, Chinese president Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a trillion-dollar plan that aims to connect more than 70 countries via an overland “belt” and a maritime “road.” On October 1, the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project hosted a half-day conference examining China’s BRI, including the challenges, risks, and opportunities it poses for the United States.
Although Beijing insists that its Belt and Road Initiative has no geopolitical motives, the project has been at the center of an increasing number of political controversies, foreign and domestic, writes the Financial Times in a Special Report, citing analyses from the Reconnecting Asia Project.
Five years after the announcement of China's Belt and Road, the ambitious drive to build new infrastructure across Eurasia has produced a mixed track record on key issues such as its energy footprint, debt sustainability, and environmental impact.
“Along with commercial opportunities, China’s overseas digital infrastructure projects carry geopolitical and strategic implications, paving the way for China’s technological dominance and furthering its ability to set global standards under the banner of its Belt and Road initiative.”
On September 19, The European Commission released a joint communication titled "Connecting Europe and Asia – Building blocks for an EU Strategy," outlining EU priorities for implementing sustainable, comprehensive, and rules-based connectivity to link its transport, energy, and digital networks with Asia.
As Asia continues to modernize and develop transportation infrastructure, its demand for electricity will continue to grow. Reconnecting Asia’s new dataset of over 11,000 power plants can help shed additional light on the region’s changing energy landscape.
Five years ago, President Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative, a vast investment scheme cloaked in the rhetoric of cooperation that was designed to pave the way for China's transition to great power status. Instead, it has become a roller coaster that Beijing is struggling to control.
Five years since it was announced, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has yet to materialize on the ground as promised. According to Chinese officials, the BRI includes six economic corridors that will carry goods, people, and data across the Eurasian supercontinent. But a statistical analysis of 173 infrastructure projects finds that Chinese investment is just as likely to go outside those corridors as within them.
China's Belt and Road Initiative has expanded far beyond its original core of Eurasia and the Middle East, from New Zealand to the Arctic, Africa to Latin America and even outer space. While the BRI is not yet a challenge to the rules-based liberal order, it is a test of it.
The sheer scale and complexity of many infrastructure projects guarantee that disputes will arise. That’s why China is not only pushing projects overseas under its Belt and Road Initiative but increasingly, it is also writing new rules that advance its interests. The implications for the rules-based order—and U.S. interests—could be profound.