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.