Roads and Risks for a Sustainable Global Power
Chapter 6: Linking the Silk Roads: the Belt and Road Initiative as the driver of Eurasian integration
China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road were joined by China into a single vision, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), rebranded as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Embracing parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific, it has moved from a geo-economic framework to regear the Chinese economy into a geopolitical agenda accelerating PRC’s interregional influence. Funded by Chinese and multilateral development banks, it faces the risks of not being able to maintain the huge flow of funds needed for infrastructure development across Eurasia, of accruing toxic loans, and of generating strong political opposition. The Bangladesh–China–India–Myanmar Economic Corridor (BCIM-EC) and the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have come under criticism from India, while other corridors need closer coordination with Russia and Europe. China has begun to improve the environmental and societal implementation of the BRI by dialogue with UN agencies and the Sustainable Development Goals, but more needs to be done to make these projects sustainable. BRI is the main ‘engine’ for a Eurasian transition, and if successful will give China a secure co-leadership role in global affairs.
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