When China’s party and state leader Xi Jinping first announced his plan for a “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in the fall of 2013, the concept sounded vague and its content was difficult to interpret. While Western observers are still trying to make sense of the initiative, which is now called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is creating new realities on the ground.
Five years down the road, China has invested more than 70 billion USD into BRI-related infrastructure projects, not counting projects still under construction or in the planning phase, which involve much larger investment volumes.
It is clear by now that BRI is about much more than securing China’s trade routes and energy supplies as well as exporting its industrial overcapacities to far-away construction projects. The initiative is a key part of Xi Jinping’s grand foreign policy design to increase China’s influence in its regional neighborhood and beyond.
Drawing on an extensive database of BRI projects, the MERICS Belt and Road Tracker provides informed analyses of BRI-related developments and trends. Apart from the database, which is updated regularly, the Tracker provides a wide range of regional and thematic maps to visualize the initiative’s scope and progress – as well as its setbacks.
The lead researcher of the project is MERICS Research Associate Thomas S. Eder.