The Belt and Road initiative was first introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013.The vision is to create and improve the physical (infrastructure), financial (lending, capital-raising) and policy (e.g. customs, trade alliances) conditions that will facilitate greater trade and investment.
It consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt (the ‘Belt’) and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (the ‘Road’). The ‘Belt’ is a land-based route leading from China through Central Asia to Europe, and the ‘Road’ is sea-based, passing through Southeast Asia, Africa, Middle East and reaching Europe. It connects more than 65 countries with a continually growing geographical reach; the countries involved account for approximately 4.4 billion people, around 63 per cent of the world’s population, and 29 per cent of global GDP1.