China’s One Belt One Road Initiative – economic golden age or poorly planned power grab?

A lack of detail and planning could cripple the most ambitious economic project in modern history.

Key Actors:

    • People’s Republic of China: the initiator of the project. Led by President Xi Jinping.


  • Major Nations along the Belt and Road: Nations in key locations such as Pakistan and Kazakhstan.


The Scenario

In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a multi-trillion dollar plan to build infrastructure around the world, estimated to encompass over 65% of world population. Named after the ancient Silk Road, the One Belt One Road will be a series of Chinese-funded infrastructure projects across the world, designed to connect economies through a land “belt” and a sea “road”.

Key infrastructure improvements such as ports in Pakistan, high-speed rail links in Indonesia, and highways in Kazakhstan will be used to improve trade and connectivity with China. China’s government will provide funding and loans, while Chinese companies will be encouraged to invest in Belt and Road nations.

Causes and Effects

As the United States expresses its disinterest in Europe and Asia, China seeks to assert its own power by providing infrastructure funding and loans to developing nations. This new infrastructure and connectivity will place China in the centre the Eurasian trade network, bolstering China’s export-based economy and quenching its need for raw materials.

Less noticeably, China seeks to sway foreign governments to its side by providing development loans and funding projects. Territorial disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea have led China to consider those areas of strategic importance. By asserting economic dominance over those areas, China’s political power also increases.


However, the Chinese government has continually failed to produce any consistent maps or plans detailing the greater scope of the initiative. Although China states that there will be 64 nations participating, many of those nations have yet to confirm it themselves. The plan has been left open-ended and vague – Chinese authorities have said that even the United States is welcome to join.

The nations in which China is planning to are often unstable and undemocratic. Already, many projects have failed in newly-democratized nations like Myanmar, which have withdrawn their support after their transition to democracy.

At this point, the Chinese government is too far involved in the project to stop. President Xi has built a majority of his foreign policy on One Belt One Road and billions of dollars have already been poured in. Whether the project will achieve its desired outcome of increased Chinese power has yet to be seen.


    • The One Belt, One Road initiative will encompass 65% of the world’s population, 40% of its GDP, and 75% of its energy resources


  • 4 trillion USD to 8 trillion USD will be spent by the Chinese government and Chinese companies.



China Daily. US welcome to join Belt and Road Initiative – 26 April 2017. Article. 11 May 2018.

Manuel, Anja. The Staggering Impact of China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative – The Atlantic. 17 October 2017. Article. 11 May 2018.

Peter, Thomas. China: 5 Facts on Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road Initiative Summit | Time. 12 May 2017. Article. 11 May 2018.

Phillips, Tom. The $900bn question: What is the Belt and Road initiative? | World news | The Guardian. 12 May 2017. Article. 11 MAy 2018.

PricewaterhouseCoopers. “China New Silk Road.” February 2016. Document. 11 May 2018. <>.

The Economist. Our bulldozers, our rules – Foreign Policy. 2 July 2016. Article. 11 May 2018. <>.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *