Delivering the Belt and Road: Decoding the supply of and demand for Chinese overseas development projects
Oct 14, 2022
Ana Horigoshi, Samantha Custer, Bryan Burgess, Kelsey Marshall, Vera Choo, Katie Andrzejewski, and Emily Dumont
Horigoshi, A., Custer, S., Burgess, B., Marshall, K., Choo, V., Andrzejewski, K. and E. Dumont. (2022). Delivering the Belt and Road: Decoding the supply of and demand for Chinese overseas development projects. Williamsburg, VA: AidData at William & Mary.
As the volume of its overseas investments has quantifiably grown over the last decade, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become synonymous in both media coverage and policy discourse with the expanding global footprint of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the Delivering the Belt and Road report, we examine how the supply of and demand for PRC-financed development projects have evolved in relation to the launch of the BRI in 2013. This report examines how Beijing’s funding priorities have changed in the era of the BRI. Using a dataset of over 13,000 Chinese state-financed development projects between 2000 and 2017, we compared financing for projects that are substantively BRI-like in their intent, regardless of when they occurred or whether they involved a BRI member country. This removes the noise of branding and focuses instead on the substantive emphasis on connectivity in various forms, providing a comprehensive look beyond infrastructure projects alone. The report also examines how citizen and leader attitudes in the Global South towards Beijing have evolved with the BRI. For every PRC-financed overseas development project, there are two sides to the equation, the perspective of the financier, but also that of their counterparts in the Global South. We triangulated data points from three surveys. The Gallup World Poll (2005-2021) assesses citizen perceptions of the PRC’s senior leadership. AidData’s Listening to Leaders Survey 2020, and 2022 Perceptions of Chinese Overseas Development Survey of African leaders (BRI Perceptions Survey) take the pulse of government, civil society, and private sector leaders across the Global South to understand the demand side of PRC-financed development projects.