'When complete, the Belt and Road will connect, by China's accounting, sixty-five per cent of the world's population and thirty per cent of global G.D.P. So far, sixty-eight countries have signed on. If bridges, pipelines, and railroads are the arteries of the modern world, then China is positioning itself as the beating heart.
'Like most Chinese official-speak, the phrase "Belt and Road" obscures more than it clarifies: the "belt" will be composed of land routes running from China to Scandinavia, the Iberian Peninsula, and the Middle East; the "road" refers to shipping.'
'The Belt and Road Initiative, or One Belt, One Road, is a strategic long-term development project devised by China’s government, consisting of bilateral trade agreements and partnerships and physical infrastructure development along two key overland and maritime trade routes. Broadly, the purpose of the initiative is to increase, simplify and strengthen the flow of trade and capital between the East and West.
'The enormity of the project means that timescales for ‘completion’ are vague or extremely long-term, potentially decades away – this has created some scepticism about whether it will ever be implemented to the full capacity of its plans.
'From a globalisation perspective, if the huge scale and ambition of the BRI comes to fruition, it could signal a transformation of geopolitics and global trade in the 21st century. The initiative will bring jobs and infrastructure to previously deprived or inaccessible regions; companies inside China will be able to trade with ease outside of mainland boundaries, and external organisations will have access to the growing middle classes. It has been estimated that by 2030, 66% of the world’s middle classes will live in Asia.
'Although many countries and government including the US, UK and India have expressed scepticism about the initiative or rejected it altogether, plans are underway and the level of China’s ambition is clear.
'As journalist and writer Wade Shepherd said in a recent Forbes article, “One day, soon perhaps, all of these pieces will align and we will wake up to a very different world, upon which time nobody will be able to do anything about it. Just because the BRI is difficult to define doesn’t mean it’s not happening. While the West mocks, China builds.”
An interesting documentary 'The New Silk Road: Ambition and Opportunity | CNBC' can be seen here: https://youtu.be/REtEOS_9Eic