China is expected to promote a rebooted version of its Belt and Road Initiative when world leaders from 37 countries gather in Beijing this week for the second Belt and Road Forum. Critics have long viewed the initiative as a bid to spread Chinese influence abroad via “debt-trap diplomacy” and other tactics.
China's Belt and Road Initiative
On March 23, Italy officially joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, an expansive development strategy first unveiled in 2013. Italy is the first member of the Group of Seven to endorse China’s centerpiece foreign policy initiative, and the move comes at a sensitive moment for the trans-Atlantic partnership.
The issue of Chinese investment has become divisive enough to help shape election outcomes in Malaysia, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. Indonesia, which is preparing for elections next month, has welcomed billions in Chinese money, and there are signs that Asia’s largest economy will play a major role in the vote there too.