NEW DELHI: It would be extremely naïve and dangerous to assume that the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative, is losing steam, says Dr Walter C Ladwig III, a Senior Lecturer in International Relations at King’s College, London.
Dr Ladwig, who specialises in the US foreign policy, South Asian security, irregular warfare, and the geopolitics of the Indo-Pacific, was in New Delhi for the Indo-Pacific Regional Dialogue hosted by the Indian Navy and the National Maritime Foundation, where he delivered a talk titled “The Diminishing Effectiveness of the BRI?”
The question mark is important, he told Ramananda Sengupta during a brief interview on the sidelines of the dialogue, because there are indications that China has learnt from its mistakes over the first decade, and is rebooting the BRI to address those. That, coupled with its ability to deliver massive infrastructure projects in record times, could make BRI V.2.0 a far more potent instrument of Chinese outreach, one that would be extremely difficult to challenge unless the counter-projects launched by those opposed to China could offer similar timelines at competitive rates.
Pointing out that low and middle-income nations owe China anything between 1.1 to 1.5 trillion USD, he said “Ultimately, they didn’t put this money out into the world to see it disappear and dissipate.”