It took only a week for China’s all-powerful President Xi Jinping to yield. Malaysia had publicly slammed China for vastly overcharging on a showcase rail project, canceling the deal. In a rare admission of Chinese excess, Mr. Xi replied in a major speech last year that his prized global infrastructure program would be more cautious, more consultative. This month, China slashed the cost of the rail by one-third.
Broadly facing criticism about overpriced and superfluous projects, China is reshaping and retooling its grand infrastructure plan, known as the Belt and Road Initiative. But Beijing isn’t retreating from its vision to build a network of ports, rails and roads that puts China at the center of global trade and enhances its geopolitical ambitions.