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Perils for Southeast Asia in Beijing's Belt and Road scheme

Impact of Xi's new Silk Road could exceed post-war US Marshall Plan

| China
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Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, shakes hands with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte prior to their bilateral meeting during the Belt and Road Forum, at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on May 15.   © Reuters

Perturbed by the rise of trade protectionism in the West and anemic growth at home, China has embarked on a massive infrastructure project aimed at recreating the global economic order in its own image. The scale and ambition of China's Belt and Road Initiative have prompted comparisons with America's post-World War II Marshall Plan, which provided crucial aid to European recovery and played a defining role in cementing Washington's global hegemony.

China launched the BRI, also known by the names "One Belt, One Road" and "New Silk Road," with a summit in Beijing on May 14 that was dubbed the biggest diplomatic event of the year. Delegates from about 100 nations in attendance featured as many as 29 heads of state and government, including Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In his keynote address, Chinese President Xi Jinping advocated economic integration, promising that China "will build an open platform" and "defend and develop an open world economy" against rising protectionism.

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