Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious program to build infrastructure across 60-plus countries on four continents. There is an overland component that links China with Western Europe by rail. The sea component links coastal China with East Africa and Europe. This month, an additional proposal linked Europe and eastern Canada via three proposed Arctic routes.
There is no overarching master plan or public list of all BRI projects. Lead investors tend to be large state-owned Chinese companies that have an interest in building the project. Projects typically are financed primarily by Chinese state-owned banks, with some participation from such agencies as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
Belt and Road is not an aid program, it is a business proposition that predominantly facilitates funding of projects through sovereign loans from China that are, in turn, used to contract state firms for infrastructure projects. No obvious effort is made to ensure that the infrastructure projects mesh well with one another, or leverage off each other beyond sharing the overarching program name.