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Xi Jinping’s Marco Polo Strategy

Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a highly orchestrated forum for his Belt and Road Initiative, which will involve 65 countries containing some 4.5 billion people. Xi’s plan to integrate Eurasia through a trillion dollars of infrastructure investment is impressive, but will it succeed as a grand strategy?


CAMBRIDGE – Last month, Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a heavily orchestrated “Belt and Road” forum in Beijing. The two-day event attracted 29 heads of state, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and 1,200 delegates from over 100 countries. Xi called China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) the “project of the century.” The 65 countries involved comprise two-thirds of the world’s land mass and include some four and a half billion people.

Originally announced in 2013, Xi’s plan to integrate Eurasia through a trillion dollars of investment in infrastructure stretching from China to Europe, with extensions to Southeast Asia and East Africa, has been termed China’s new Marshall Plan as well as its bid for a grand strategy. Some observers also saw the Forum as part of Xi’s effort to fill the vacuum left by Donald Trump’s abandonment of Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

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