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.
Given the economic and strategic importance of connectivity, many governments and regional organizations have launched infrastructure programs in the Indo-Pacific in the last few years. The U.S.’s new infrastructure strategies must not only respond to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but also consider the complex landscape of overlapping initiatives already on offer in the Indo-Pacific.
In the coming years, as governments fine-tune their cyber governance models and lay out plans for 5G networks, the United States and its allies should accelerate efforts to work with Southeast Asian partners on issues related to digital infrastructure and governance if they hope to compete with China's Digital Silk Road.
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.
As demand for network bandwidth grows among Belt and Road countries, China will exert its technological dominance and set global standards through centrally-coordinated fiber-optic roll-outs, the establishment of data centers, and the deployment of communications, positioning, and observation satellites.
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.
China's latest "16+1" summit in Sofia Bulgaria perfectly captures China’s deceptive brand of multilateralism. Bringing together many countries, it gives the outward appearance of inclusivity and consensus-building, but beneath the surface, it is fundamentally different from the multilateral practices and institutions it claims to uphold. China has yet to offer the world deep multilateralism at scale.
This Friday China will gather 16 Central and Eastern European countries in Sofia, Bulgaria, for the annual China-Central and Eastern European "16+1" summit. As the gathering may help China build a bigger economic and political presence in Europe and exercise its power bilaterally under the cover of a multilateral veneer, it warrants more attention from Brussels and Washington.
Energy projects account for more than 60 percent of the roughly $62 billion in investment along the China-Pakistan Economic Corrdior. While CPEC's power plants have the potential to greatly increase access to electricity for Pakistan’s population, they could also pose serious risks to surrounding wildlife.
This report highlights recommendations on how the U.S. might effectively engage Southeast Asia's infrastructure challenges to foster greater stability and financial integration in the region.
Even if Belt and Road investment declines in the future, whether for political or economic reasons, the influence of Chinese constructors and planners on regional markets will continue to be apparent, from the alignment of high-speed railways in Indonesia to the design of residential and commercial developments in city centers.
China's President Xi Jinping promised that his Belt and Road Initiative would be a "plan in the sunshine." But the BRI's outlook is darkening as some actual and potential partners raise concerns about transparency, debt sustainability, and even China's underlying strategic aims.
A close look at the characteristics of China's port projects in the Indo-Pacific suggests that rather than resulting in "win-win" economic prosperity, they are generating political leverage, increasing Beijing’s military presence, and reshaping the strategic operating environment in China’s favor.
The tug of war between quantity and quality is now at the center of Asia’s infrastructure contest.
A panel of CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road, the littoral component of China's Belt and Road Initiative.
China’s $1 trillion push to build infrastructure across Asia evokes romantic comparisons to the ancient Silk Road, but there is a more recent chapter of history that urges caution. More than a century and a half ago, the United States was a rising power racing westward, building transcontinental railways that delivered limited benefits and exacted a high cost from society. Today, China has taken on that role.
China has embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history. It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it’s how China plans to become the world’s next superpower.
Seven CSIS experts unpack the economic and geostrategic implications of China’s infrastructure development across the Indo-Pacific region under the Maritime Silk Road.
Within the last few years, Iran has demonstrated its strong political will to re-emerge as a regional transportation hub.
As Asia’s powers advance plans for a number of economic corridors to connect the continent, it is important to understand what exactly an economic corridor entails.
The New Silk Road Project will travel 10,000 miles across China’s Economic Belt from London to Yiwu to investigate the people, projects, countries, and landscapes involved in China's Belt and Road Initiative.
As Europe disappears, Asia coheres. The supercontinent is becoming one fluid, comprehensible unit of trade and conflict, as the Westphalian system of states weakens and older, imperial legacies – Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Turkish – become paramount.
Just 10 years ago, regular direct freight services from China to Europe did not exist. Today, they connect roughly 35 Chinese cities with 34 European cities. But despite their rapid advances, these lines must compete with maritime routes that have dominated commerce between Asia and Europe since the late fifteenth century. It remains to be seen how much trade they can capture.
China is not a newcomer to the Western Balkans. Beijing is leveraging historical ties with the region to connect with willing collaborators and use its newfound political capital.