The worldwide mergers and acquisitions that make up the backbone of China's ambitious Belt and Road initiative, also known as the “New Silk Road,” are surging, giving a positive indication for the outlook trajectory of the major political-economic project, according to Reuters data.
As of Monday, Chinese acquisitions in the 68 countries around the world who are participating in the initiative so far had totaled a whopping US$33 billion since the beginning of 2017. In all of 2016, total acquisitions were around US$31 billion.
The Belt and Road initiative is the cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping's foreign and economic policy, aimed at integrating diverse foreign markets, mostly in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, with China, and promoting the creation of a “moderately prosperous society" that is more integrated globally.
“People are thinking in a long-term approach when making investments along Belt and Road countries,” Hilary Lau, a corporate and commercial lawyer said according to Reuters. Lau emphasized that the acquisition choices are primarily driven by Chinese state policy and funds.
China has in recent months tightened down state regulation over debt-based overseas acquisitions in order to ensure stability. Against the expectations of many Western neo-liberal commentators and economists, China's foreign economic growth has only continued to soar under state-imposed regulation.
Many leaders in Western capitals are increasingly concerned about the growth of China's worldwide economic influence. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump recently announced that it would be “investigating” alleged “unfair” commercial practices of China, a move that China has condemned.
“If the United States fails to respect basic facts and multilateral trade rules, and takes measures that harm bilateral economic and trade relations, China will definitely not sit by, but will take all appropriate measures to resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying said according to the People's Daily.
This year has also seen the U.S. place increasing pressure on China over their alleged failure to “reign in” the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea. As military threats have escalated on the Korean Peninsula, China's President Xi Jinping has become a leading voice advocating for calmness in rhetoric and action.
China proposed a “double freeze” plan, in which the halting of missile tests by the DPRK would have to be accompanied by the halting of military exercises on and near the Korean peninsula by the U.S. and South Korea. The plan has been backed by Russia and Germany.
Heather Nauert, spokesperson for the U.S. Department of State, recently rejected China's proposed plan and said the U.S. would continue on with joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.