For all the public scrutiny and policy discussion swirling around the BRI, there is a surprising lack of hard data to accurately assess whether and how it has altered the PRC’s overseas development finance program in substantive ways—until now. This dataset is the result of an initial application of a new systematic project tagging methodology that allows us to tag projects (irrespective of time period, geography or membership status) that are “BRI-like,” in that they correspond to clearly identified thematic foci laid out in key speeches and strategic frameworks introducing the BRI to the world. It is an important step forward to being able to better understand whether and to what extent there has been a change in the PRC’s revealed priorities—not only what Beijing says it wants to fund, but how this translates into actual funded projects—before and after the announcement of BRI in 2013.
This dataset contains 10,849 BRI-tagged projects from AidData’s Global Chinese Development Finance (GCDF) Dataset, Version 2.0. This tagging schema builds upon the full GCDF dataset, which encompasses over 13,000 overseas development projects bankrolled by the Chinese government between 2000 and 2017, and is best considered as a value addition to that foundational dataset. This is the first comprehensive approach to systematically define a taxonomy of "BRI-like" activities, apply this tagging schema at the project level to AidData’s historical database, and use the results to monitor the presence of activities pertaining to BRI themes. For more information on how we developed the BRI-tagging schema, please refer to our full methodology document, included in the dataset download, which outlines the taxonomy development and coding process in depth.
For an early application of this data, see AidData’s Delivering the Belt and Road report. The report incorporates the BRI-tagged data, along with other information, to assess whether and how Beijing’s overseas development program has changed with the advent of BRI in terms of revealed funding priorities, along with the expectations and experiences of partner countries in the Global South.