A two-day summit to unveil what China is portraying as the infrastructure project of the century concluded on May 15. The $1 trillion initiative is designed to vastly expand free trade in Africa, Asia and Europe. Realization of the plan will depend in part on the effectiveness of a newly minted development mechanism, known as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
The summit, held outside the Chinese capital Beijing, celebrated the launch of China’s Belt and Road infrastructure vision. It brought together 30 world leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, who expressed hope the project would promote growth and a new world order.
"It is our hope that via the Belt and Road initiative, we will unleash new economic forces for global growth, build new platforms for global development, and rebalance economic globalization,” Xi told summit attendees on May 15.
The financing needed to realize Belt and Road plans presents lots of challenges. Beijing will be looking to the AIIB, which began operations only in January 2016, to be a Belt and Road catalyst, including providing financing for projects in Central Asia.
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Gary Sands is a Senior Analyst at Wikistrat, a crowdsourced consultancy, and a Director at Highway West Capital Advisors, a venture capital, project finance and political risk advisory. He has contributed commentaries to US News and World Report, Newsweek, Washington Times, The Diplomat, The National Interest, International Policy Digest, Asia Times, Eurasia Review, Indo-Pacific Review, the South China Morning Post, Global Times and China Digital Times.