Chinese President Xi Jinping has plans to resurrect the ancient “Silk Road” with a bold new project known as the Belt and Road Initiative. This enormous project aims to create a vast network of ports and trade routes that would connect countries on four different continents, and thrust Chinese influence westward.
Many U.S. analysts have remained wary of the project, however, as they feel the move could cause a shift in the global economy, affecting the status of the United States as a world leader.
Many countries that neighbor China are in need of a critical boost to their infrastructure, and many have signed agreements with China, with the country investing more than $50 billion in 20 key countries along the proposed route.
The Xinhua News Agency told reporters at NPR that, “[t]he ambitious plan is not empty talk.” Initial projections call for approximately $900 billion, $100 billion of which President Xi Jinping said will be pulled from his initiative fund and the other half to be pulled from government-owned banks, such as the China Development Bank in Beijing.
Still, many countries have concerns and reservations against the project, fueled with everything from fear of advanced Chinese military presence to already critically poor countries receiving China’s economic problems when it comes to excess laborers and an increase in capacity for long periods of time.
With Chinese expansion comes workers, burdening local economies and stifling the availability of jobs.
President Jinping, however, stands behind the project and says that it will bring unity and prosperity.
At the Belt and Road Forum on May 14 in Beijing, he told attendees that “[t]his part of history shows that civilization thrives with openness. Nations prosper through exchange.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin did not share the same concerns as some who are critical of the plan, and said during the opening ceremony that he had little to no concerns about Chinese business overtaking and replacing jobs and people in the Russian economy.
The quick pace at which the project intends to move puts a new burden on President Donald Trump and his administration as to which role they will take concerning trade in the Eurasia region.