Invasive species could hitch a ride along China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), according to a new study. The BRI is intended to accelerate trade and transportation among more than 80 countries, including some of the world’s most biodiverse areas. Examining those areas, researchers identified “invasion hotspots,” which are especially vulnerable to non-native species, and found that a majority of them are within the BRI’s six proposed economic corridors.

The Colombo Port City, built on land reclaimed from the Indian Ocean and funded with $1.4 billion in Chinese investment, in Sri Lanka. Photo: Paula Bronstein via Getty Images

Why it matters: It’s a reminder that greater connectivity comes with unintended consequences. The ancient “Silk Road,” after all, carried not only goods and ideas, but also the plague. If the BRI succeeds in supercharging global connectivity, it will almost certainly increase the risk of pandemics, drug and wildlife trafficking, and other dangerous flows.

Yes, but: The good news is that the BRI is still in its early stages. Its six corridors were easy to announce as concepts, but they have been incredibly difficult to build and coordinate in practice. Many BRI maps are more fiction than reality at this point.

The upside is that China and countries participating in the BRI can still make prevention and early detection of unwanted flows, especially health threats, a bigger priority. They could share more information about where projects are being planned, more deeply integrate health and environmental experts in the planning process, and work with the World Health Organization to improve early detection systems.

The bottom line: The economic benefits of greater connectivity are well-documented: Countries that have more connections to global flows grow by up to 40% more than less-connected countries. While there’s no question the world needs more infrastructure, it would be a mistake to ignore the risks that new connections might bring.

Jonathan Hillman is director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Go deeper: The invasive species threat from the BRI

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Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.