In 2013, Chinese president Xi Jinping first unveiled his broad vision to develop regional connectivity and infrastructure across Eurasia that would later be officially named the Belt and Road Initiative (or yi dai yi lu, One Belt, One Road, or OBOR). The initiative has emerged as a central narrative of Xi’s foreign policy, and China has already committed an estimated $300 billion in financing for infrastructure projects such as roads, railways, ports, power plants and telecommunications hardware across Asia to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Some estimate the figure could reach $1 trillion over the next decade. Moving beyond physical infrastructure, China hopes to make OBOR a catalyst for developing the so-called “five connectivities” to include infrastructure, finance, commerce, people-to-people exchanges and policy coordination – in effect taking on a more normative role in shaping the regional economic and social order. By now opening the initiative up to all countries and regions of the world, China is seemingly looking to develop OBOR into a broad-ranging platform for coordinating regional development and, possibly, global governance.
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