Central Asia News

China’s Belt and Road Is Full of Holes

Since President Xi Jinping announced it five years ago, China’s BRI has been equally captivating and frustrating for analysts. Its sheer scale demands attention. Spanning roughly 80 countries, it can claim to cover more than two- thirds of the world’s population. It could include Chinese investments approaching $1 trillion, seven times what the United States spent under the Marshall Plan. It intends to strengthen hard infrastructure with new roads and railways, soft infrastructure with trade and transportation agreements, and even cultural ties with university scholarships and other people-to-people exchanges. In all these ways, when much of the West is looking inward, China is connecting with the world.

China Burdening Central Asia With Sinister Debt Trap

The BRI is also breathtakingly ambiguous. There is no official definition for what qualifies as a BRI project. There are Chinese-funded projects in countries not participating in the BRI that share many of the same characteristics. The BRI was officially launched in 2013, but projects started years earlier are often counted. The BRI brand has been extended to fashion shows, art exhibits, marathons, domestic flights, dentistry, and other unrelated activities. The BRI’s loose, ever-expanding nature, and a lack of project transparency, have led many observers to exaggerate its size. When assessing the BRI, there is always a risk of imposing order where, by design, it does not exist…

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