China’s critics contend the Belt and Road Initiative is dead or dying due to a mix of gross mismanagement and hubris. The data, however, reveals a very different story. While lending has definitely decreased considerably from its peak in 2016, the BRI is very much alive — it just looks very different today than it did even a few years ago.
Instead of expensive large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, the Americas, and Asia, Chinese lenders are now focusing more on smaller initiatives related to technology, renewable energy, and connectivity. In fact, Chinese creditors lent more money to finance green energy initiatives in the first half of the year than in any other 6-month period since the BRI launched a decade ago.
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