This report describes the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is a transcontinental infrastructure plan conceptualized in China and implemented in more than 100 partner countries, primarily emerging economies. The BRI primarily promotes the building of physical infrastructure that will connect the partner countries globally.
Despite its needs-based approach, the BRI has been widely criticized for creating undesirable effects, such as increasing partner countries' economic dependence on China through debt-trap lending. The authors of this report identify and explain what makes the BRI different from traditional development finance initiatives and provide a framework to assess the critiques. They also discuss the available evidence on the BRI's effects and describe the implications for policymakers who are trying to determine how to assess and leverage the BRI.
Funding for this independent research was provided by the generous contributions of the RAND Social and Economic Well-Being Advisory Board and the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy (CAPP) Advisory Board. This research was conducted jointly within RAND Social and Economic Well-Being and the RAND Center for Asia Pacific Policy.
This report is part of the RAND working paper series. RAND working papers are intended to share researchers' latest findings and to solicit informal peer review. They have been approved for circulation by RAND but may not have been formally edited or peer reviewed.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.