China Balances Uncertain Gains with Potentially Big Payoffs in Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
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East-West Center, Washington, DC
Tereza Kobelkova, ‘China Balances Uncertain Gains with Potentially Big Payoffs in Belt and Road Initiative’, Asia Pacific Bulletin, No. 398, 27 September 2017.
As China accrues ever greater geopolitical weight, its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a major step forward in enhancing its international power and prestige. International commentators have focused on the potential gains that the initiative offers to China. However, as the BRI involves large investments in developing and politically unstable countries, there are great risks of investment losses arising from the initiative. As a result, an increasing number of Chinese companies and experts have expressed grave concerns over BRI’s impact on their countries’ economies. It is puzzling that a traditionally pragmatic state such as China would pursue this initiative despite the risks, raising questions about the rationale behind the BRI. However, regardless of the economic and political risks involved, connection to trade routes and natural resources represent important pragmatic reasons to pursue the BRI.