In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled plans for two massive trade and infrastructure networks connecting East Asia with Europe: the New Silk Road (also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt) and the Maritime Silk Road. A little over a year later, these initiatives are rapidly becoming reality as Beijing shows it is more than willing to put its money where its mouth is.
Bloomberg, citing Chinese government officials, reports that China plans to create “a $16.3 billion fund … to build and expand railways, roads and pipelines in Chinese provinces that are part of” the planned Silk Road Economic Belt. China’s state-owned China Daily also picked up the report. The massive investments will help boost economic development in China’s poorer inland regions, a key goal of the Silk Road Economic Belt.
Meanwhile, Beijing also plans to promote policies that encourage Chinese banks to lend money to other countries along the planned route. And that’s in addition to the massive amounts of infrastructure funding China had already promised to Silk Road partners: $1.4 billion for developing port infrastructure in Sri Lanka; $50 billion in infrastructure and energy deals in Central Asia; $327 million in general aid to Afghanistan, some of which will fund “the construction of rail lines, highways, water conservancies, [and] power facilities,” according to China Daily. With the establishment of China’s new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), expect to see even more money flowing into the region to shore up infrastructure capabilities. Want China Times estimates that the total value of the Silk Road Economic Belt, when all is said and done, will be an astronomical $21.1 trillion.
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