The Belt and Road Initiative: Motivations, financing, expansion and challenges of Xi’s ever-expanding strategy

Alex He

Abstract


The paper examines the motivations, financing, expansion and challenges of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI was initially designed to address China’s overcapacity and promote economic growth in both China and in countries along the “Belt” and “Road” through infrastructure investment and industrial capacity cooperation. It took into account China’s strategic transition in its opening-up policy and foreign policy to pay more attention to the neighboring countries in Southeast Asia and Central and West Asia when facing greater strategic pressure from the United States in East Asia and the Pacific region. More themes have been added to the initiative’s original framework since its inception in 2013, including the vision of the BRI as China’s major solution to improve international economic cooperation and practice to build a “community of shared future for mankind”, and the idea of the Green Silk Road and the Digital Silk Road. Chinese state-owned enterprises and policy and commercial banks have dominated investment and financing for BRI projects, which explains the root of the problems and risks facing the initiative, such as unsustainable debt, non-transparency, corruption and low economic efficiency. Measures taken by China to tackle these problems, for example, mitigating the debt distress and improving debt sustainability, are unlikely to make a big difference anytime soon due to the tenacity of China’s long-held state-driven investment model.


Keywords


BRI; overcapacity; infrastructure investment; industrial cooperation; financing; state-owned banks; ever-expanding strategy; debt trap; debt sustainability

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24294/jipd.v4i1.1180

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