The Greek port of Piraeus. PHOTO: Shutterstock.
In Pakistan, a $US46-billion mega-scheme is underway to build a network of roads, railways, energy projects, trading parks and related infrastructure to link up to western China.
A Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridor will connect South Asia with Southeast Asia.
Other projects commenced or in planning include a high-speed train line between the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Bandung, gas pipelines in Turkmenistan and a rail link to Afghanistan’s Hairatan port.
China is even developing its own answer to GPS, the Beidou Navigation Satellite System, which by 2018 will include 18 satellites covering nations involved in the BRI.
Beijing-backed financial institutions such as the New Development Bank, Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and The Silk Road Fund have a combined financial firepower of $US240 billion ready to commit to BRI projects, but long-term capital requirements will be far higher.
The vast initiative will run over several generations and its sheer scale and ambition will impact across global initiatives, such as shifting to a lower carbon economy.
According to eminent economist Jeffrey Sachs, China, “which aims to link Asia to Europe with modern infrastructure networks - will help advance some of these (sustainability) goals, assuming the projects are designed with a low-carbon-energy future in mind.”
He has no doubt about the potential importance however.
“The initiative will boost employment, spending, and growth, especially in the landlocked economies across Eurasia,” Sachs says. “It should even deliver new dynamism to economic and diplomatic relations among the European Union, Russia and China.”