Updated Jan 19, 2018

The staggering scale of China's Belt and Road initiative

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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