The “Belt and Road Initiative”(BRI)
The “Belt and Road Initiative, an infrastructure development plan is considered one of China’s most ambitious and expensive developmental projects in modern times. The project estimated at $1 trillion and involving more than 60 countries and representing, 50 percent of the world population and more than 30 percent of the world’s economy, if implemented, will put China in the forefront of shaping a new global economic order.
President Xi Jinping, the man behind this “thinking big” infrastructural development project, sees it not only as a domestic economic strategy, but also as an avenue to strengthen China’s foreign policy and improvement of multilateral relations.
The idea of the ‘Belt and Road’, grand plan was first mentioned by President Xi Jinping in 2013, when he made references to the “Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” during his visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia.
The “Belt and Road” Initiative is compared to the Marshal Plan or the European recovery program sponsored by the US in 1948, to the tune of $13 billion to resuscitate the economies of Western Europe after the Second World War.
The building of roads, railways and waterways will increase interstate connectivity to ease import and export between China and partner countries. Internally, China will achieve economic integration and competitiveness as its less developed areas in the western and southern regions will be interconnected to more developed ones and neighboring countries. In implementing the “Belt and Road” Initiative, President Xi has made it known that his country has no ulterior motives of influence peddling, and he said there are, “Three Nos” that will be strictly adhered to, which are:
1. No interference in the internal affairs of other nations;
2. No seeking to increase China’s “sphere of influence” and
3. No strive for dominance or hegemony.
Three financial institutions are lined up to support the ambitious One Belt, One Road, infrastructure development projects. These are the Silk Road infrastructure Fund, The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB).
Financial analysts see these financial institutions more likely to be the preferred choice of lenders to developing countries than the Western controlled World Bank and IMF; which exercise the “carrot and stick” approach.
China eyed as outsmarting the West in shaping a new outlook of the global economic order, should expect some resistance to and probably undermining of the smooth implementation of the “One Belt, One Road” plan.