Stories by Jonathan Hillman

Expert Voices

Big Brother hitches a ride on China's Belt and Road

A Kenyan bridge under construction
Construction of a bridge in Mombasa, Kenya, by the China Road and Bridge Corp. Photo: Xinhua/Pan Siwei via Getty Images

China plans to send government agents to monitor projects along its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), potentially extending the Chinese Communist Party's arm deeper into participating countries.

The big picture: Corruption has been damaging Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature foreign policy initiative. He now wants to deploy abroad the same Orwellian-sounding Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that has helped carry out his domestic anti-corruption campaign.

Expert Voices

Without reforms, China's Belt and Road projects could fall short

Xi Jinping and Emomali Rahmon shaking hands
China's President Xi Jinping and Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon at the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing in April 2019. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The World Bank has released a study on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that predicts major economic benefits, but only if Beijing makes some even bigger course corrections.

The big picture: While the authors find that infrastructure can increase growth through trade and investment, these gains depend on a host of reforms such as greater transparency and data reporting — especially around debt, open procurement, and social and environmental standards. Essentially, the study advises China that success requires becoming more like the World Bank.

Expert Voices

Sale of Huawei's underseas cables could leave risks unaddressed

Hengtong Group Chairman Cui Genliang speaking at a microphone
Hengtong Group Chairman Cui Genliang. Photo: VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Huawei is set to sell its underseas cable business, a move that could help China continue a critical part of its global infrastructure push.

Why it matters: Two weeks ago, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei to its “entities list,” blocking it from U.S. suppliers. The sale of Huawei’s underseas cable business would effectively pass the baton to another Chinese national champion, Hengtong Group.