This year, Chinese freight trains have made pioneering journeys to the U.K. from Yiwu in Zhejiang Province, eastern China, and from the Xiamen Free Trade Zone in southeastern Fujian Province to Moscow. These are among the latest examples of developments in the Belt and Road Initiative, also known as the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, and as the One Belt, One Road initiative.
Whatever we call it, this is Chinese President Xi Jinping's pet project, launched in 2013. Xi will host a BRI summit in Beijing on May 14 and 15 amid great fanfare about trade and infrastructure achievements and prospects. But what is the BRI, and is it a game-changer for China's role in the global economy?