- Xi adds Arctic, Latin America to Belt and Road Initiative
- Latest expansion leaves out only Canada, Japan and U.S.
With the addition of the Arctic and Latin America last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative has become truly global. Only the U.S., its neighbor Canada and ally Japan have yet to be included in the plan, which seeks to build or upgrade a network of highways, railways, ports and pipelines.
China added the two regions — about 33.7 million total square kilometers (13 million square miles) — in the span of five days. First, Xi urged the creation of a “Trans-Pacific Maritime Silk Road” in a Jan. 22 message to a gathering of leaders from Latin American and Caribbean countries. On Friday, China also announced a “Polar Silk Road” while unveiling its first white paper detailing an Arctic policy.
Even before this latest expansion, questions have swirled over the risk and necessity of Chinese investments linked with the Belt and Road Initiative. Still, the project — which China’s ruling Communist Party wrote into its constitution — has only grown more ambitious since Xi first proposed restoring ancient Eurasian trade routes in 2013.
Here’s how the initiative came to cover most of the globe:
- September 2013: Xi proposes land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” in Astana, Kazakhstan.
- October 2013: Xi adds a “21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” in Jakarta.
- March 2015: Belt-and-Road action plan specifies the inclusion of South Asia, the Indian Ocean, the South Pacific and the Mediterranean Sea.
- June 2017: China’s “Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative” highlights three “blue economic corridors” spanning Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
- Jan. 22: Xi proposes “Trans-Pacific Maritime Silk Road” with Latin America and Caribbean countries.
- Jan. 26: Arctic white paper unveils “Polar Silk Road”
Full article: China Infrastructure Push Reaches Arctic, Leaving Out U.S. (Bloomberg Technology)