“One Belt, One Road represents China’s biggest overseas spending effort ever, a project that, adjusted for inflation, is at least 12 times the size of the Marshall Plan, the history-changing U.S. program that helped rebuild Western Europe from rubble after World War II. The effort is already seeding power plants, railroads, and pipelines in emerging-market countries starving for such backbone investments. And, notably, it’s sparking optimism among big Western engineering and construction conglomerates that see bigger growth opportunities in these countries than they do in Europe, in the U.S. (even under an infrastructure-friendly Trump administration), or in China itself.
Just as with the Marshall Plan, there’s far more than altruism in play. China’s huge state-owned infrastructure companies, hampered by their own country’s gradual slowdown, need projects that will keep their foundries blazing and their workers paid while the nation makes the transition to a less industrial, more consumer-driven economy. And Belt and Road (as China’s government has rebranded it) helps China earn diplomatic goodwill at a time when the U.S. and Europe appear less willing to invest in economy-building abroad.”