Navigating the Belt and Road Initiative



Daniel R. Russel, Blake Berger | Asia Society Policy Institute

Launched in 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative — a highly ambitious and extensive Chinese-led transcontinental development effort that would sew together infrastructure projects across more than 70 countries. The Belt and Road Initiative, estimated to comprise more than USD $1 trillion in Chinese investment, is arguably China’s broadest economic engagement effort with the rest of the world — enhancing China’s connectivity through Southeast, South, Central, and West Asia; Africa; South America; and Europe.

A significant amount of study has been devoted to the BRI, with many analyses focusing on its economic and strategic impetuses, mapping BRI corridors, and gathering data to understand its respective component projects. For the past year, the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) has been engaging in a project that examines BRI with the aim of setting forth actionable recommendations for how China and partner countries can advance China’s stated BRI objectives. Given the transcontinental scale of BRI, supporting higher-quality BRI project practices will generate mutually beneficial and sustainable development outcomes.

With this aim, ASPI’s new report, Navigating the Belt and Road Initiative integrates international standards, Chinese domestic guidelines, and lessons learned from BRI’s first five years to conceptualize a blueprint for successful projects and to surmount the challenges that BRI projects have faced thus far. The report and a “BRI Matrix” within it offer guidance on the management of BRI projects to improve the likelihood that they yield beneficial and sustainable developmental, economic, environmental, civic, and social outcomes.

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[To read the original report, click here]

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