The Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese Agribusiness Going Global | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED

The Belt and Road Initiative: Chinese Agribusiness Going Global

One of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies, Beijing-based JD.com, says it will soon be able to deliver fruit from anywhere in the world to the doorsteps of Chinese consumers within 48 hours. It takes highly integrated global infrastructure—connecting farms to warehouses to transportation to consumers—to achieve a goal like this. China’s new mega-infrastructure plan, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), will help make JD.com’s vision a reality. It will also increase the concentration of global food production and distribution, potentially pushing small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, forest peoples and rural communities further to the margins. There are also serious concerns that BRI could worsen land grabs, human rights abuses, indebtedness, and environmental and health impacts in target countries.

Also known as One Belt One Road (OBOR), BRI was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The largest infrastructure project ever embarked upon in world history, BRI focuses on promoting manufacturing, trade and investment, as well as the physical and digital integration of international markets. BRI provides a framework for Chinese investment to enhance existing infrastructure as well as build new production sites and trade routes to better connect China with the rest of the world.

BRI envisions a land-based “belt” connecting China with Europe and a sea-based “road” crossing the Indian Ocean to Africa up through the Mediterranean and reaching over the Pacific as far as Oceania and Latin America (see map). The initiative currently involves some 90 countries and is expected to cost more than US$1 trillion. Much of the funding comes from Chinese sources such as the China Development Bank and involves a combination of loans, bonds and equity investments. China also set up a special Silk Road Fund to finance BRI projects. International finance institutions such as the World Bank and the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, as well as private banks like HSBC, have also expressed support or established their own BRI focused funds.

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