China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has seen a slowdown in funding as megaprojects have proven economically tenuous and Beijing faces its first overseas debt crises as a lender, the WSJ’s Megha Mandavia reports. But while the BRI is facing challenges in certain regions, it is still expanding its footprint in other areas, particularly in Latin America, which offers strong economic prospects and abundant agricultural and mineral resources that are of interest to Beijing.
Despite the slowdown in funding, experts believe it is unlikely Beijing will abandon its BRI projects entirely. Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., says that these infrastructure and connectivity projects remain critical for China’s economic interests—particularly if Beijing has any long-term plans to translate some of them into military assets for its strategic interests as well.
Instead, what seems likely is a more discerning BRI, with a greater focus on financial returns and getting along with the locals.