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China is making Iran a hub in its global infrastructure project

Data: Xinhua; Map: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

China is building and upgrading railroads in the west and east of Iran, making the Persian Gulf nation the centerpiece of an enormous transportation-and-energy latticework connecting much of the global economy, per the NYT.

Why this is a big deal: In the same way that Britain ruled its 19th century empire through a far-flung navy, and the U.S. has done so through its trade deals and its own big naval ships, Beijing is preparing for the day years from now when it may be the premier global power. Its vehicle is an infrastructural Pax Sinica, what it calls "One Belt, One Road."