China is moving so fast and thinking so big that it is willing to make short-term missteps for what it calculates to be long-term gains. Even financially dubious projects in corruption-ridden countries like Pakistan and Kenya make sense for military and diplomatic reasons.
The United States and many of its major European and Asian allies have taken a cautious approach to the project, leery of bending to China’s strategic goals. Some, like Australia, have rebuffed Beijing’s requests to sign up for the plan. Despite projects on its turf, India is uneasy because Chinese-built roads will run through disputed territory in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
But it is impossible for any foreign leader, multinational executive or international banker to ignore China’s push to remake global trade.
Germany’s minister of economics and energy, Brigitte Zypries, plans to attend the meeting in Beijing. Western industrial giants like General Electric and Siemens are coming, as they look for lucrative contracts and try to stay in China’s good graces.
The Trump administration just upgraded its participation.
Originally, it planned to send a Commerce Department official, Eric Branstad, the son of the incoming American ambassador to Beijing, Terry Branstad. Now, Matthew Pottinger, senior director for Asia at the National Security Council, will attend instead — a signal that the White House is enhancing its warm relationship with Mr. Xi by honoring his endeavor with the presence of a top official.
Influence Via Infrastructure
As the sun beat down on Chinese workers driving bulldozers, four huge tractor-trailers rolled into a storage area here in Vang Vieng, a difficult three-hour drive over potholed roles from the capital, Vientiane. They each carried massive coils of steel wire.