The anxiety of belt and road initiative

The anxiety of belt and road initiative

JI-Beijing. Mention the Belt and Road Initiative in polite Western company and the damning or dismissive consensus is deafening.

Take Christina Lu in Foreign Policy magazine in February. The headline reads: “China’s Belt and Road to Nowhere”. The initiative is “a shadow of its former self”, she says. The “floundering initiative” has seen its lending slump and projects stall.

In Apec discussions back to 2015, anyone foolish enough to mention the phrase “belt and road” would get Japanese officials reminding you that if cheap and cheerful infrastructure was OK, then of course China-led projects might suffice. US officials would say the initiative was all to do with underhanded Chinese efforts to develop soft power by stealth and debt-trap dependencies that “beneficiaries” would come to regret.

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