China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development project that has been in progress for the past 10 years. Some people have speculated that the initiative is losing momentum, but we should consider three things when assessing its impact.
First, the amount of capital allocated to the BRI has decreased over time, but this does not mean the initiative has failed. Its success should be measured by the impact of the projects it has undertaken.
Second, evaluating the BRI based on a traditional return on investment is not appropriate. Instead, we should consider its contribution to China’s broader strategic goals, such as securing economic ties with other countries and avoiding choosing sides in geopolitical rivalries.
Third, the BRI is expected to evolve as China’s strategic goals change. The next phase may focus more on the “Digital Silk Road” and green energy projects. China’s telecom and digital companies will need to expand into neutral markets to offset restrictions in other countries and maintain revenue.
The BRI is not going away and has already transformed China’s position in the world. Rather than hoping for its decline, it is essential for Europe, the United States, Japan, and their allies to think about how to compete with an evolving BRI that will play a significant role in the digital and green transitions of many countries.
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