In March Italy broke ranks with its EU partners in joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative, known also as One Belt, One Road or the New Silk Road.

Students of history know the original “Silk Road” refers to the ancient network of trading routes between China and Europe, which served as both a conduit for the movement of goods, and an exchange of ideas, for centuries.

The “New Silk Road” is the term for an ambitious trade corridor first proposed by the Chinese regime under its current president, Xi Jinping, in 2013. The grand design also known, confusingly, as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), is a “belt” of overland corridors and a “road” of shipping lanes.

It consists of a vast network of railways, pipelines, highways and ports that would extend west through the mountainous former Soviet republics and south to Pakistan, India and southeast Asia.

So far over 60 countries, containing two-thirds of the world’s population, have either signed onto BRI or say they intend to do so. According to the Center for Foreign Relations, the Chinese government has already spent about $200 billion on the growing list of mega-projects projects including the $68 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Morgan Stanley predicts China’s expenditures on BRI could climb as high as $1.3 trillion by 2027.

The Belt and Road Initiative is seen by proponents as an economic driver of proportions never seen before in human history. It would not only allow Asia to relieve its “infrastructure bottleneck” ie. an $800 billion annual shortfall on infrastructure spending, but bring less-developed neighboring nations into the modern world by providing a growing market of 1.38 billion Chinese consumers.

Opponents argue that is naive and the real intent of BRI is to carve new Chinese spheres of influence in Asia that will replace the United States, in-debt poor nations to China for decades, and restore China to its former imperial glory.

http://news.goldseek.com/GoldSeek/1556723347.php