China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative

By Cecilia Calatrava

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New episode of the EBRD podcast available for download

In a new episode of our podcast Pocket Economics”, Mattia Romani, the EBRD’s Managing Director for Economics, Policy & Governance, and Vanora Bennett discuss China’s Belt and Road Initiative, arguably its most ambitious economic and foreign policy project since the founding of the People’s Republic.

The development strategy, defined by China’s President Xi Jinping as “The project of the Century” aims to promote economic co-operation and people-to-people connectivity among countries along proposed Belt and Road routes.

“Physical Infrastructure constitutes the heart of the issue, but there is so much more to it,” says Mr Romani.

So what are the real implications of this ambitious initiative?

“Some see China as at the vanguard of a new era of globalisation, especially as certain so called advanced economies seem to be adopting more protectionist positions. This is a very important test for globalisation and the results will have a bearing on its very sustainability,” he points out.

He argues that this vision of connectivity is especially important for countries sometimes neglected by the global economy. “Now we can take these countries back to the centre of the world,” he says.

There is scepticism in some quarters about China’s motives for expanding its geopolitical footprint and promoting its economic interests.

But, as Mr Romani concludes, “BRI-supporting institutions such as the EBRD play a crucial role in translating China’s vision into actions that are aligned with the principles they outline, and to help local economies benefit from it.”

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