The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, or B&R) is a global development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 involving infrastructure development and investments in nearly 70 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
The leader of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, originally announced the strategy during official visits to Indonesia and Kazakhstan in 2013. “Belt” refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, called “the Silk Road Economic Belt“; whereas “road” refers to the sea routes, or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
Formerly known as One Belt One Road (OBOR) (short for the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, it has been referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since 2016 when the Chinese government considered the emphasis on the word “one” was prone to misinterpretation. However, “One Belt One Road” (一带一路) is still used in Chinese-language media.
The Chinese government calls the initiative “a bid to enhance regional connectivity and embrace a brighter future”. Some observers see it as a push for Chinese dominance in global affairs with a China-centered trading network. The project has a targeted completion date of 2049, which coincides with the 100th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.