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MERICS BRI Tracker: Database and project design

The MERICS Belt and Road Tracker draws upon a large database of projects within the framework of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The database contains more than 2,500 entries (as of September 2019), it is continuously updated and expanded. Updates are based on a systematic monitoring and data collection from a wide set of Chinese and international official sources, industry associations, companies and media.

The database contains projects within the scope of two Chinese policy documents that outline the BRI: the “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” and the “Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.” The goals set out in these policy documents relate to several types of infrastructure investments, but also to policy coordination, trade facilitation, financial integration and people-to-people relations.

The database extends beyond projects that are explicitly characterized as “part of the BRI” by the Chinese government and that are most often related to transport or energy infrastructure in certain parts of Asia, Europe and East Africa. This approach allows for including projects beyond those that are officially labelled as “part of the BRI.” Oftentimes, these labels are chosen for diplomatic and political reasons, without saying much about the nature of a given project.

Instead, the MERICS BRI database aims to cover all projects that further BRI policy goals – regardless of how they are marketed. It includes projects worldwide that can be considered within the scope of the categories defined in the Chinese policy documents and that entail a Chinese role in funding or implementation. Only projects above a 25 million USD project value threshold are included.