The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road also known as the Belt and Road Initiative, the Belt and Road (abbreviated B&R), or One Belt, One Road (abbreviated OBOR, is a development strategy, proposed by Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” (SREB) and oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road” (MSR). The strategy underlines China’s push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need for priority capacity cooperation in areas such as steel manufacturing.
The Logo of the Belt and Road Forum, 14-15 May 2017, BeijingIt was unveiled in September and October 2013 in announcements revealing the SREB and MSR, respectively. It was also promoted by Premier Li Keqiang during the State visit in Asia and Europe. It was the most frequently mentioned concept in People’s Daily in 2016.
Map of Asia, showing the OBOR initiative
China, Korea and Japan in red, Members of the AIIB in orange, the six corridors in black and blue
The One Belt One Road initiative is geographically structured along 6 corridors, and the maritime silk road.
New Eurasian Land Bridge, running from Western China to Western Russia
China – Mongolia – Russia Corridor, running from Northern China to Eastern Russia
China – Central Asia – West Asia Corridor, running from Western China to Turkey
China – Indochina Peninsula Corridor, running from Southern China to Singapore
China – Pakistan Corridor, running from South-Western China to Pakistan
Bangladesh – China – India – Myanmar Corridor, running from Southern China to India
Maritime Silk Road, running from the Chinese Coast over Singapore and India to the Mediterranean.
The coverage area of the initiative is primarily Asia and Europe, encompassing around 60 countries. Oceania and East Africa are also included. Anticipated cumulative investment over an indefinite timescale is variously put at US$4 trillion or US$8 trillion. One Belt, One Road has been contrasted with the two US-centric trading arrangements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Bridging the ‘infrastructure gap’ in Asia and beyond
The Belt and Road Initiative is expected to bridge the ‘infrastructure gap’ and thus accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area and Central and Eastern Europe: World Pensions Council (WPC) experts estimate that “Asia alone (excluding China) will need up to $900 billion in infrastructure investments annually in the next 10 years, mostly in debt instruments. This means there’s a 50 percent shortfall in infra spending on the continent.”The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state “gladly expressed their interest to join this new focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth”