2nd June Highlights

Three good reads on China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Belt and Road is big, Beijing is rich but not that rich, and China’s domestic media ignores foreign agency.

Belt and Road money

I’m short on time this weekend because I’m working on an exciting new project – watch this space – so here are three worthwhile reads on the Belt and Road. I’ve also published a short commentary on Eurasia, China, and Iran, which you can read here.

Belt and Road: Shirley Ze Yu defines the Belt and Road

I wasn’t expecting much from this paper. It’s partly about ‘how the Belt and Road relates to the UK’, and I find that’s often an eye-roll inducing angle to take… But this is actually a great overview of the initiative and its defining concepts. Even the UK part of the paper is fairly convincing, even if I fundamentally disagree that the UK has an opportunity to ‘once again play its historic role as a strategic balancer’ vis a vis China.

After all, the BRI operates as much as a philosophical notion as an economic one. We should not lose sight of that.

Belt and Road: Beijing does not have trillions to spare

I’m a little late to the party with this one. It was published in March and has been sitting on my desk ever since, but I didn’t think it would tell me anything I didn’t already know – I’m already convinced that Beijing doesn’t have trillions to sink into the Belt and Road. But again, I was wrong. This is a really great paper, full of pithily worded insights backed up by hard facts. It has some good figures on investments in BRI by private firms and really manages to pack a lot into five pages. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years how the Chinese government manages to attract private investment in Belt and Road projects.

To put it bluntly, if BRI activity was consistently profitable, someone other than Chinese SOEs would engage in it.

Belt and Road: What China tells itself about BRI

A look at the portrayal of the Belt and Road in domestic media. Not an angle I’ve seen much of and definitely worth a read!

When reporters did bring local community issues into their lens, they sometimes treated their views like fire hoops for Chinese actors to jump through.


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