China is embarking on the largest infrastructure project in history, spanning four continents and attempting to link the old Silk Road to Europe — and back to China.

Why it matters: China is increasingly asserting its economic power, and seeking to bolster its global influence. It is undertaking this project at a time when the U.S. can't pass a domestic infrastructure project, and is taking a step back from the world.

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Adapted from a Mercator Institute for China Studies map; Map: Lazaro Gamio / Axios
By the numbers
  • $1 trillion or more is the expected price tag, the New Yorker’s Evan Osnos reports. That's seven times as costly as the Marshall Plan, on which the U.S. spent $130 billion to rebuild Europe after World War II.
  • 70 countries will be involved in the initiative, Chinese news outlet Xinhua reports.
  • At least 36 planned or existing ports outside of China are involved.
  • $786 billion in trade took place between China and Belt and Road partners in the first three quarters of 2017, a 15% increase from 2016.
  • In Pakistan: China is partnering with Pakistan to build $60 billion worth of infrastructure as part of the initiative, CNBC reports.
  • In Thailand: The Chinese partnership with Thailand is expected to yield a 542-mile railroad, carrying high-speed trains that’ll move at up to 150 miles per hour, per CNBC.
  • In Malaysia: One Belt, One Road will spend about $40 billion on four railroad projects, per Xinhua.
  • The rise: The U.S. controls 24% of the global economy and China 15%, compared to 31% and 4% respectively in 2000.

Go deeper: China wants to reshape the global order

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