In the past year, the Belt and Road initiative has been a highly popular topic for Chinese analysts and journalists, who have described China’s drive to finance infrastructure projects in neighboring countries as a national or grand strategy. In this podcast, host Paul Haenle and Xie Tao discuss the economic and geopolitical motivations behind this initiative and the nuanced ways that the Chinese government and analysts have described it.

Xie Tao argues that Chinese leaders have defined these efforts as an initiative to frame it as a call for action for China to provide public goods to other countries. He notes that China’s policymaking process has lacked transparency, leaving some uncertainty about China’s intentions. Haenle points out that it is important for China’s diplomats to communicate closely with the rest of the international community about details surrounding the initiative. If China is not forthcoming and transparent about its efforts, Haenle argues, people will assume that their own assumptions about it are true. 

Xie Tao

Xie Tao is a professor of political science at Beijing Foreign Studies University. He holds a PhD in political science from Northwestern University and is the author of U.S.-China Relations: China Policy on Capitol Hill and co-author of Living with the Dragon: How the American Public Views the Rise of China.

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle is the director of the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy. Prior to joining Carnegie, he served from June 2007 to June 2009 as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolian Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former president George W. Bush and President Barack Obama.