First published: The Times 03/09/2018

Five years ago this week, President Xi launched the Belt and Road Initiative, a 21st century reincarnation of the ancient Silk Road or network of caravan trails and trade routes that once linked western China with the Mediterranean. The Belt and Road is China’s signature foreign policy for the “new era”. For China, it is a new model of economic development based on the financing and construction of infrastructure and win-win outcomes of mutual co-operation and prosperity. For many others, though, it is a geographically incoherent, China-centric strategy to spread the country’s global footprint, raising serious questions about indebtedness, political interference and even colonialism.

The initiative is, on paper, a substantial connectivity project comprising trade, financial, cultural and educational links and, above all, loans for…Read more….