Home | Keywords | Belt and Road Initiative |

Belt and Road Initiative

The Belt and Road Initiative is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations. It is considered a centrepiece of the Chinese leader Xi Jinping`s foreign policy and forms a central component of Xi`s "Major Country Diplomacy" (Chinese: ????-?) strategy, which calls for China to assume a greater leadership role for global affairs in accordance with its rising power and status.

Most often shortened to BRI, the initiative has attracted criticism as being a form of neo-colonialism. Some Western governments have accused the Belt and Road Initiative of being neo-colonial due to what they allege is China`s practice of debt-trap diplomacy to fund the initiative`s infrastructure projects.

Deborah Bräutigam (see Profile), a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University, described the debt-trap diplomacy theory as a "meme" that became popular due to "human negativity bias" based on anxiety about the rise of China. . A 2019 research paper by Bräutigam found that most of the debtor countries voluntarily signed on to the loans and had positive experiences working with China, and "the evidence so far, including the Sri Lankan case, shows that the drumbeat of alarm about Chinese banks` funding of infrastructure across the BRI and beyond is overblown" and "a large number of people have favorable opinions of China as an economic model and consider China an attractive partner for their development." She said that the theory lacked evidence and criticized the media for promoting a narrative that "wrongfully misrepresents the relationship between China and the developing countries that it deals with". (Brautigam, Deborah (2 January 2020). "A critical look at Chinese `debt-trap diplomacy`: the rise of a meme". Area Development and Policy. An August 2018 China Africa Research Initiative report, co-authored by Brautigam, remarked that "Chinese loans are not currently a major contributor to debt distress in Africa."

For more information, click on Brautigam`s profile.