Chinese leader Xi Jinping trumpeted his foreign policy vision – the Belt and Road – to great fanfare this past week.
Yet a consistently discordant note was heard from European reporting around the event, with officials talking to press about their lack of understanding of the project. While some of their concerns were understandable, there was an element of missing the point.
Xi Jinping may talk in terms of a project, but in reality what we are seeing laid out is a grand vision: one that Beijing is using to re-shape its engagement with the world. Continue reading →
Almost two years have passed since Chinese President Xi Jinping first gave a name to the strategy that China had been undertaking in Central Asia for over a decade. The announcement of the Silk Road Economic Belt in Astana in September 2013 was rapidly followed by the declaration of a number of other trade and economic corridors emanating out from China, which largely copied the Central Asian model.
At home in China there has been a flurry of activity to try to unpack at a regional and national level the roadmap of the leader’s vision, manifested in conferences, regional strategy documents, and various declarations.
Outside China there has been less clarity, with most in Europe (who have heard the message that they are the other end of this road) questioning what the Chinese vision looks like in practice. Continue reading →