HONG KONG, April 4 (Reuters) – China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of those rare things that virtually everybody seems to have heard about, but equally, very few people can actually claim to have a detailed understanding of what it means.
This dichotomy was in evidence at the Belt and Road conference, hosted by Mines and Money, in Hong Kong on Tuesday, with views ranging from the BRI will be the driver of a new super-cycle for commodities to that it’s more of a marketing slogan aimed at boosting the image and influence of the government in Beijing.
On the side of thinking of the BRI as a sort of a Marshall plan for Asia, Africa and even Europe are a set of impressive sounding numbers, which dwarf the scale of the U.S. initiative that helped to rebuild Europe after World War II.
The heart of the BRI is effectively building vast numbers of infrastructure and energy projects across at least 70 countries that are home to a total of 65 percent of the world’s population and some 40 percent of its economic output.
The centrepiece of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s economic programme also involves developing the mines and oil and gas fields necessary to supply the raw materials for this vast undertaking.