On April 25-27, China’s government will host the leaders of dozens of countries to celebrate the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the signature foreign policy program of Xi Jinping. Since its founding in October 2013, the BRI now covers more than 150 countries and encompasses billions of dollars of deals. In late March, Italy became the first G-7 nation to endorse Belt and Road.
But meanwhile, there are signs that Beijing, and the rest of the world, are less than ecstatic about the BRI. In a February 2019 essay entitled “Will China Let Belt and Road Die Quietly?,” the scholar Minxin Pei writes that “In all likelihood, we will see a significant decline in the hype Chinese official media outlets devote to BRI. It is also a safe bet that Beijing’s funding for BRI will decline measurably this year—and in the coming years.”
Is 2019 the beginning of the end of BRI? Or are reports of its death premature?