Belt and Road: A ‘China solution’ or a path to nowhere? – China politics and current affairs news from May 4, 2017


A summary of today’s top news in Chinese politics and current affairs. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Chinese cosmocrats — from mission control to the governor’s office."

FILE PHOTO - A B-1B Lancer from the U.S. Air Force 28th Air Expeditionary Wing heads out on a combat mission in support of strikes on Afghanistan in this file picture released December 7, 2001. Cedric H.Rudisill/USAF/Handout via REUTERS

As Beijing prepares to host 28 world leaders on May 14-15 for a summit on China’s ambitious “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) global infrastructure initiative, a wide array of commentators and financial institutions are sizing up the plan.

Bloomberg reports that the bank Credit Suisse has concluded that China may pour more than $500 billion over the next five years into OBOR projects, and confirmed the mainstream perception that the projects are likelier to further China global influence under a less globally engaged, Trump-led U.S. The Japan-led Asian Development Bank confirmed that it “seeks to cooperate, not compete, with China” on OBOR projects, Reuters notes. The Financial Times explains (paywall) how OBOR is now seen as part of a “China solution,” as one expert put it, to spur economic development worldwide. China’s Xinhua News Agency, meanwhile, is kicking into gear defending the plan in an editorial titled “Belt & Road Initiative win-win, not a solo show.”

Meanwhile, OBOR continues to draw criticism as little more than a rhetorical basket filled primarily with pre-existing projects, particularly those in Pakistan, which have political problems on their own that could torpedo the wider initiative. Mihir Sharma writes in a column for Bloomberg that the political risks of the OBOR projects in Pakistan are underrated, and that “China usually struggles to live up to such big promises” as those offered to Pakistan. George Magnus points out in a piece for Nikkei Asian Review that the projects in Pakistan date back to 2002, long before Xi Jinping’s rollout of OBOR in 2013. And the Financial Times piece linked above notes that with stalled projects in Kazakhstan and Thailand, “so far, little outside China has been completed.”