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The “New Silk Road” Economic Corridor: Political and Strategic Implications of a Chinese-led Regional Infrastructure

About the Project

This eighteen-month project will provide a comprehensive assessment of the "Silk Road Economic Belt"—the land-based component of China’s One Belt, One Road initiative that will link Western China with Europe via Central Asia and the Middle East. The project is led by Nadège Rolland, Senior Fellow at the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), who also serves as the project’s principal investigator.

Made possible by the generous support of the Smith Richardson Foundation, this project will yield a final monograph—to be published by NBR in 2017—that will assess the political and strategic implications of China’s “New Silk Road” for Asia, Europe, and the United States. The monograph findings will draw on Ms. Rolland’s field research in China.

The Issue

The "Silk Road Economic Belt," first announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his September 2013 trip to Kazakhstan, envisions a network of railways and roads connecting several cities in Western China to Europe via Central Asia, Iran, Turkey, the Balkans, and the Caucasus, across the 11,000-kilometer-long Eurasian continent. Chinese authorities see this transportation infrastructure, coupled with a large pipeline and telecommunication network, as a first step towards the creation of a Eurasian economic corridor that will integrate the landlocked economies of the Central Asian hinterland and tie them more tightly to China.

China’s motivations for this extraordinarily ambitious project are numerous and complex, but mostly understudied. Its geopolitical and strategic impacts are likely to be far-reaching, and yet Chinese authorities have so far downplayed them.

Project Objectives

  • Describe the nuts and bolts of China’s New Silk Road and the evolution of the concept in Chinese strategic thinking
  • Examine the internal and external drivers motivating China’s push for the Belt and Road Initiative from an economic, political, and strategic standpoint
  • Analyze how Beijing intends to respond to potential obstacles and challenges
  • Explore the implications for U.S. interests and how Washington should adjust its policy approach in light of China’s intentions

Contact

Nadège Rolland
Senior Fellow
Political and Security Affairs
psa@nbr.org

China's Strategy Behind the "One Belt, One Road" Initiative

Nadège Rolland spoke on China's strategy behind the "One Belt, One Road" initiative (OBOR) in an expert panel discussion hosted by the Robert S. Strauss Center and the Center for East Asian Studies. Learn more about the event and see a video interview with Ms. Rolland.

China’s New Silk Road

Launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, China’s initiative to build a Silk Road economic belt signals a new era of integration between China and its Central Asian neighbors in support of Beijing’s growing regional influence. Nadège Rolland (NBR) examines the economic and strategic prospects for the initiative.