May 1, 2019

China's infatuation with the number 6

Xi, at Belt and Road last week. Photo: Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty

At China's big Belt and Road conference last week in Beijing, local officials bandied about a new moniker for the spidery, geopolitically important system of infrastructure it is building around the world — "Six Corridors, Six Roads."

The backdrop: The name gives more description to a project that fans out from China, around the region and to most of the other continents, reflecting Beijing's ambitions, like Rome, to make all roads lead to it.

Technically speaking, the designation is not new — Chinese President Xi Jinping first made Six Corridors, Six Roads public 2 years ago. But last week's heavy emphasis shows the Chinese are doubling down on it, says Jonathan Hillman, director of the Reconnecting Asia Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

  • The six designated corridors go through Russia; northern Central Asia; southern Central Asia; Pakistan; India; and Indochina.
  • "The magnitude of China’s vision overshadows anything else currently on the world stage," says Hillman.
  • But at the same time, the Chinese have laid bare something less impressive: "With one notable exception, the corridors are still more aspirational than reality."

That is, only the Pakistani route is being fully built out. The others are more skeletal.

Over lunch today in D.C., Parag Khanna, author of "The Future is Asian," said that faulty Western reasoning is turning Chinese ambitions into fears of a new Cold War. In terms of superpower competition with the U.S., China is simply an added actor in an already multi-polar world, he said. "The answer to the question of who will be No. 1 is, 'neither.'"

  • Yet, China continues its march to lay down its Six Roads infrastructure: On Monday, Xi and Swiss President Uei Maurer signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on the project.

Go deeper: Belt and Road is full of holes

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World coronavirus updates: World Bank warns economic pain unavoidable

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The novel coronavirus has caused a "global shock" and significant economic pain "seems unavoidable in all countries," the World Bank said in an economic update for
East Asia and the Pacific on Monday.

The big picture: COVID-19 cases surged past 786,000 and the death toll exceeded 37,800 early Tuesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Italy reported more than 11,500 total deaths.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 10 mins ago - Health

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 786,228 — Total deaths: 37,820 — Total recoveries: 166,041.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in confirmed cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 a.m. ET: 164,603 — Total deaths: 3,170— Total recoveries: 5,896.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. State updates: Rural-state governors say testing is still inadequate, contradicting Trump — Virginia, Maryland and D.C. issue stay-at-home orders to residents, joining 28 other states.
  5. Business latest: Ford and General Electric aim to make 50,000 ventilators in 100 days.
  6. In photos: Navy hospital ship arrives in Manhattan.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 3,000

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. death toll from the novel coronavirus has now surpassed 3,000, per Johns Hopkins data.

The state of play: The U.S. had by Monday night recorded more than 163,000 positive cases — more than any other country in the world, per Johns Hopkins. The COVID-19 death toll stood at 3,008. The number of recoveries had risen to more than 5,800.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health