A ‘recalibrated’ Belt and Road?

Domestic News

The second BARF — Belt and Road Forum — begins tomorrow in Beijing, two years after the first such gathering. It seems rather hastily put together, at least if the event’s website is any guide. BARF’s agenda page is still blank, and it’s early morning in China on April 25 as I write this.

Here is a summary of media reports so far:

  • “Eight more top politicians will attend the forum this year than the first one in 2017, bringing the total to 37, including two European Union members — Austria and Portugal,” says Bloomberg (porous paywall). With Singapore and Thailand joining this year, all 10 ASEAN members are expected to attend.
  • Last year, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Turkey, and Argentina attended, but will be absent this year. Why? Bloomberg cites consultancy Eurasia Group: “None of these countries have had a falling out with Beijing over BRI, but geopolitical concerns may have been a factor: Turkey and China have sparred over China’s policy toward Uyghurs and Poland arrested two Huawei employees for spying in January.”
  • “China is expected to promote a recalibrated version of its Belt and Road initiative at a summit of heads of state this week in Beijing, seeking to allay criticism that its flagship infrastructure policy fuels indebtedness and lacks transparency,” says Reuters.
  • Green Belt and Road — reality or hype? China Dialogue looks at the environmental agenda for the upcoming summit, and what’s really behind the “green Belt and Road” slogans.
  • Foreign enthusiasm in the media today:
  • Love weird Belt and Road propaganda? You’ll enjoy this video “about a durian called ‘Little Thai’ who thanks the Belt and Road Initiative for helping its ‘durian brothers and sisters’ get a smoother ride to China to be eaten in ‘durian hot pot,’” as described by MacroPolo associate Neil Thomas.