China has embarked on the most ambitious infrastructure project in modern world history. It’s called the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and it spans three continents and covers almost 60 percent of the world’s population. It’s how China plans to become the world’s next superpower.
The BRI essentially has two parts. The first, the economic belt, is made up of six corridors that direct trade to and from China. These corridors include roads, railways, bridges, power plants — anything that makes it easier for Europe, Asia, and Africa to trade goods with China. The second part, the maritime silk road, is a chain of seaports from the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean that direct maritime trade to and from China.
China is loaning trillions of dollars to countries willing to host these projects. They’re promoted as a win-win for everyone. Many of the countries involved need new infrastructure and access to new markets, while China needs new projects for its growing construction industry. But many of the countries involved in the BRI are authoritarian, corrupt, and in conflict — risky places for China to invest money in.
Watch the video above to see why China is willing to take that risk with its Belt and Road Initiative.