China is Transforming its Foreign Policy Objectives

Joseph Dana
4 min readFeb 10, 2023

When the history of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is written, it’s unclear how much there will be to say that is positive. After spending more than $1 trillion to build a network of infrastructure projects across emerging market countries designed to connect large portions of the global economy to Beijing, cracks are beginning to form. Funding is drying up, existing projects are falling apart, and receiving countries are drowning in debt. This is leading some nations to rebel openly against Chinese influence in their backyards. Given the softening global economic outlook, it’s time to ask some hard questions about the future of the BRI and how China might pivot its foreign policy efforts in the near future to cover over BRI’s endemic challenges.

From its origin, the BRI was a vehicle for extending Chinese influence across emerging markets from Asia to South America. In the mid-2010s, when the BRI gained real momentum, the collective economic narrative was one of irrational hope for emerging markets. From the World Economic Forum to the pages of the financial press, emerging markets were heralded as the next great economic miracle. Greater connectivity through smartphones and aviation links gave hope that a new middle class would arise from Kenya to Kazakhstan. Buoyed by fast urbanization and even faster birth rates, this middle class would propel…

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