Viewpoint: How China’s Belt And Road Became A ‘Global Trail Of Trouble’
By Wade Shepard
China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI), a network of enhanced overland and maritime trade routes better linking China with Asia, Europe and Africa began in 2013 with much fanfare and hope. Upwards of a trillion dollars were being put on the table to boost economic development in globalization’s final frontiers, Asia and Africa’s infrastructure gap was to be lessened, and the world’s second largest economy was taking more of an active role in international affairs with the prospect of creating a true multi-polar global power structure. With catchphrases like “a rising tide lifts all ships,” China stepped beyond its borders to an extent that hasn’t been seen for centuries—perhaps ever—and was welcomed by many emerging markets with open arms.
But today, nearly seven years since the Belt and Road began, the story is much different, as in some markets Chinese investment has nearly become a euphemism for wasteful spending, environmental destruction and untenable debt. Many major projects are currently strewn around the world in half-finished disrepair and the opportunities that were sold to local populations rarely materialized. All up and down the Belt and Road, projects have been marred by delays, financial implosions and (occasionally violent) outpourings of negative public sentiment.
Photo courtesy of faungg’s photos.