China Macro Reporter
1. Xi Jinping's Second Belt and Road Forum: Three Key Takeaways

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0101"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption">Bloomberg</p><p class="excerpt">A kinder, gentler Belt and Road?</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>Daniel Kliman of the Center for a New American Security:</strong> 'It’s clear that Xi sought to use this year’s Belt and Road Forum as a platform to pursue multiple objectives':</p><ul><li><strong>‘to rebrand</strong> the Belt and Road’</li><li><strong>‘to telegraph</strong> to the United States that he is prepared — rhetorically, at least — to address American concerns that have led to the current trade confrontation.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Chinese President Xi Jinping</strong> hosted some 5,000 delegates from across the globe at the Belt and Road forum in Beijing from April 25 to 27,’ <a href="" target="_blank">reports Bloomberg.</a></p><ul><li><strong>‘This year’s gathering eschewed</strong> the pageantry of the inaugural summit in 2017, as Beijing tried to address international criticism by toning down its rhetoric and tightening oversight.’</li><li><strong>‘Here are three takeaways</strong> from the summit, and how Xi fared in the international spotlight.’</li></ul><hr /><h2>‘1. A Chastened Xi’</h2><p><strong>‘Compared with his keynote speech</strong> two years ago, Xi was more muted on the Belt and Road initiative’s growing presence in other countries.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The president stuck</strong> to discussing steps China is taking to clean up the project, and vowed “zero tolerance” on corruption.’</li><li><strong>‘People’s Bank of China Governor Yi Gang</strong> said the central bank would “build an open, market-oriented financing and investment system,” and the government released its analysis framework for debt sustainability.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Xi didn’t announce</strong> new numbers on upcoming investment into the program, though he said $64 billion worth of deals were signed at last week’s forum.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In 2017, he said China</strong> would add 100 billion yuan ($14.8 billion) to the Silk Road Fund and two state-owned banks would provide special loans for BRI projects worth 380 billion yuan in total.'</li></ul><p><strong>‘This year’s joint statement</strong> — released after Xi chaired a round table with participating leaders — repeatedly called for “high-quality” projects and standards.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The 2017</strong> communique didn’t use the phrase.’</li><li><strong>‘The document</strong> also encouraged developed nations to invest in “connectivity projects” in developing countries, and said cooperation “will be open, green and clean.”’</li></ul><hr /><h2>‘2. Rehabilitation Signals’</h2><p><strong>‘China’s efforts</strong> to rehabilitate the Belt and Road’s image did have some success, drawing eight more heads of state to this year’s conference.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,</strong> previously one of the biggest critics of the initiative in Southeast Asia, said his country is fully supportive and and stands to benefit from its BRI project.’</li><li><strong>‘Earlier this month,</strong> Malaysia struck a deal with China to resume the East Coast Rail Link project for 44 billion ringgit ($10.7 billion) — down from 65.5 billion ringgit — after deciding to terminate it in January.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘In March</strong>, Italy became the first Group of 7 country to sign up for the BRI, a big win for Beijing that also raised alarm bells in the region.'</p><ul><li><strong>‘At last week’s forum,</strong> developed countries including Austria, Switzerland and Singapore signed up for so-called third-party market cooperation.’</li><li><strong>‘Japan, France,</strong> Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Australia have already signed the document, agreeing to help build infrastructure in developing countries.’</li></ul><hr /><h2>‘3. Trade Message’</h2><p><strong>‘While Xi</strong> made no mention of the ongoing trade war with the U.S. in his speech on Friday, a large part of it alluded to the major issues in negotiations — such as cleaning up state subsidies, reducing non-tariff barriers, boosting imports and protecting intellectual property.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘China won’t engage</strong> in currency devaluation that “harms others,” Xi said in the speech.’</li><li><strong>‘The phrase mirrors</strong> language he’s used to describe China’s diplomatic policies.’</li><li><strong>‘In the trade deal negotiations,</strong> the U.S. has asked China to keep the value of the yuan stable to neutralize any effort to soften the blow of U.S. tariffs.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘While he reiterated Chinese</strong> talking points about opening up, Xi specifically highlighted the significance of implementation, another sticking point in the China-U.S. trade talks.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘“We will establish</strong> a binding enforcement system for international agreements,” Xi told the forum.’</li><li><strong>‘U.S. Treasury Secretary</strong> Steven Mnuchin has said the two sides have “pretty much agreed on” a mechanism for sticking to the trade deal.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

2. Brooking's David Dollar on praise and criticism of Belt and Road Initiative

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0102"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-16by9"><iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src=""></iframe></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"><strong>‘China is being</strong> flexible and pragmatic in trying to make Belt and Road more successful.'</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>David Dollar,</strong> a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, was the U.S. Treasury’s economic and financial emissary to China and World Bank country director for China.</p><ul><li><strong>'He talks</strong> about Xi's speech and the Belt and Road Initiative in a <a href="" target="_blank">4m 26s  interview.</a></li></ul><p><strong>‘The Belt and Road</strong> is mostly about financing infrastructure, and developing countries need infrastructure.’</p><ul><li><p><strong>‘That's why</strong> 40 heads of state are going to Beijing for this year's Belt and Road Forum.’</p></li><li><p><strong>‘But some of these countries</strong> are also concerned some projects have been expensive - with interest rates quite high and worries about debt sustainability.’</p></li><li><strong>‘For example,</strong> Malaysia has been worried about the cost of the high-speed rail, so they scaled back the project, but they're going ahead – and Prime Minister Mahathir was one of the speakers at the Forum.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘It was interesting</strong> that President Xi Jinping basically anticipated and pre-empted this kind of criticism.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In his speech</strong> he talked about high quality, debt sustainability, more competition in giving out contracts for projects.’</li><li><strong>‘China is being</strong> flexible and pragmatic in trying to make Belt and Road more successful.’</li><li><strong>‘And,</strong> this Belt and Road Forum shows this.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘About</strong> a hundred and fifty countries that have basically endorsed the Belt and Road.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘In Africa alone,</strong> 37 countries have signed up.’</li><li><strong>‘About half</strong> of the European Union countries with smaller economies have signed up.’</li><li><strong>‘So developing countries</strong> in particular see this is an opportunity to improve their infrastructure.’</li><li><strong>‘But only Italy</strong> is the first really big G7 economy to sign up,’</li><li><strong>‘This shows that</strong> – unlike in developing countries - there's differences of opinion about the Belt and Road within the advanced capitalist countries.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Everyone recognizes</strong> the need for infrastructure.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The critics</strong> of the BRI are focused on the negative, saying that the glass is not even half full.’</li><li><strong>‘The supporters</strong> are focusing on the positives and saying the glass is more than half full.’</li><li><strong>‘I think</strong> what we can all agree on is that if there are improvements made over time, then that glass is going to be fuller and fuller.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘If China</strong> can strengthen some of these processes we just talked about, you're going to get a lot of good outcomes.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘I think</strong> China's right: this is win-win.’</li><li><strong>‘If the projects</strong> are good projects that are implemented properly, then it's going to be win-win.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

3. Three ways of looking at the Belt and Road Initiative

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0103"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption">Washington Post</p><p class="excerpt">‘The question about whether China will learn from its mistakes is the known unknown about Belt and Road.’</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>Pay special attention</strong> to 'Camp 3: BRI as a learning curve.'</p><ul><li><strong>That, coincidentally, is what</strong> I was thinking just a couple of hours before reading this article.</li></ul><p><strong>In over 40 years</strong> of working on China issues, I have seen a pattern. (And, I've been involved in dealing with the panicked aftermath that hit foreign companies.)</p><ul><li><strong>China</strong> tries something new.</li><li><strong>Screws</strong> it up.</li><li><strong>Then figures</strong> it out and is successful.</li><li><strong>Think</strong> several iterations before success.</li></ul><p><strong>The three Camps</strong><a href="" target="_blank"> suggested by Daniel W. Drezner,</a> professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, are useful.</p><ul><li><strong>Next time</strong> you hear or read a pundit telling you about the BRI, put him in his Camp.</li><li><strong>And remember</strong> there are two other Camps that disagree.</li></ul><p><strong>'BRI</strong> has inspired a lot of takes in the foreign policy community,' <a href="" target="_blank">according to Daniel Drezner.</a></p><ul><li><strong>‘BRI takes</strong> can be divided into three camps.'</li></ul><hr /><h2><strong>‘CAMP 1: #OMGChina!</strong></h2><p><strong>'The members of this camp</strong> believe that China can do no wrong.’</p><ul><li><strong>'They therefore look</strong> at Belt and Road and see it as a brilliant coherent plan of quasi-coercive economic statecraft that ensnares all its participants into a Chinese web of influence.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘As it turns out,</strong> an awful lot of official U.S. actors fall into this camp. Both the 2017 National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy reference China’s economic statecraft.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The Defense Department’s</strong> 2018 report on China’s military power warns that the BRI “is intended to develop strong economic ties with other countries, shape their interests to align with China’s, and deter confrontation or criticism of China’s approach to sensitive issues.”’</li><li><strong>‘It’s not just official actors</strong>. The Council on Foreign Relations describes BRI as “the most ambitious infrastructure investment effort in history” and “an unsettling extension of China’s rising power.”’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Most of the writers</strong> in this camp uses phrases like “debt trap diplomacy” and point to China’s newfound control over Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka as a result of that country’s failure to pay as the paradigmatic example.’</p><hr /><h2>‘CAMP 2: BRI blowback.</h2><p><strong>This camp,</strong> which consists of an awful lot of China watchers, points out the myriad ways in which China’s aggressive promotion of BRI has had negative feedback effects.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘They point to the way</strong> that China’s entry into South Asia triggered pushback from India.’ ‘They highlight the fact that even countries dependent on Chinese foreign direct investment, such as Pakistan or Malaysia, have objected to BRI terms they found rather onerous.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘This camp</strong> also does not think that BRI is the development of some radical alternative order.</p><ul><li><strong>‘For them,</strong> the top-line figures of BRI funding are mostly a mirage.’</li><li><strong>‘The branding of BRI</strong> has been too haphazard.’</li><li><strong>‘The funding priorities</strong> have been at the mercy of Chinese domestic politics.’</li><li><strong>‘This is not a recipe</strong> for creating alluring investments.’</li></ul><hr /><h2>‘CAMP 3: BRI as a learning curve. [my take]</h2><p><strong>And now</strong> we arrive at the interesting possibility.</p><ul><li><strong>‘This camp thinks</strong> of BRI the same way that Americans should think about all of China’s economic statecraft: Beijing is experimenting with how to convert its resources into influence.’</li><li><strong>‘BRI</strong> is one of those experiments.’</li><li><strong>‘With each failed experiment</strong> Beijing learns how to do economic statecraft better.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Camp 2</strong> is correct to point out all of the BRI screw-ups.</p><ul><li><strong>‘What is interesting,</strong> however, is that Xi Jinping, the leader who coined BRI, is admitting this.’</li><li><strong>Regarding Xi’s Belt and Road Forum speech:</strong> ‘According to the New York Times’s Jane Perlez, even Xi is willing to admit error’: "Xi stressed the importance of ‘high quality’ and ‘reasonably priced’ infrastructure as the way to help developing countries and said China would follow international rules on bidding and procurement for projects."'</li><li><strong>‘In an apparent nod</strong> to past mistakes, Mr. Xi said: “Everything should be done in a transparent way, and we should have zero tolerance for corruption.”'</li></ul><p><strong>‘If China</strong> is successful in its efforts, then Camp 3 will collapse into Camp 1. If not, Camp 2.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘The question</strong> about whether China will learn from its mistakes is the known unknown about Belt and Road.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

4. A Slimmer Belt and Road Is Even Scarier

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0104"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption">Bloomberg</p><p class="excerpt">'A leaner version of the Belt and Road will potentially be far more potent.'</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>‘China’s</strong> globe-spanning infrastructure initiative is shrinking,’ <a href="" target="_blank">says Andrew Small</a> of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.</p><ul><li><strong>‘The rhetoric</strong> at the second Belt and Road Forum, being held in Beijing this week, has been less triumphalist — and new plans for roads, pipelines, bridges and rail lines more modest — than at the first’:</li><li><strong>‘On Friday,</strong> Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged high standards and “zero tolerance” for corruption in the program.’</li><li><strong>‘Unfortunately</strong> for the U.S. and its allies, though, a downsized program could pose more, not less of a competitive threat to the West.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘There are limits</strong> to Beijing’s ability to fix' the Belt and Road Initiative.</p><ul><li><strong>‘Some of the Belt and Road’s flaws</strong> are endemic to the way the Chinese economic and political system works: Beijing’s deep sensitivity to political embarrassment around the scheme, for instance, is only increasing its lack of transparency.’</li><li><strong>‘Nor is China</strong> willing to make the initiative genuinely multilateral, which would slow it down and erode any bilateral leverage Beijing hopes to gain over individual countries.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Still, 'this leaner version</strong> of the Belt and Road will potentially be far more potent. China will still be able to deploy its many advantages in the new scheme':</p><ul><li><strong>'its capable</strong> infrastructure firms,'</li><li><strong>'large-scale subsidies</strong> for its major companies,'</li><li><strong>'speedy</strong> decision-making,'</li><li><strong>'increasingly</strong> cutting-edge technology, and'</li><li><strong>'willingness</strong> to finance non-bankable projects that fit broader strategic goals.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘At the same time</strong>, a more measured approach, better attuned to political and economic risk and more responsive to local demands, will give China greater scope to entrench its presence in the economic sectors that matter.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Most important</strong> of these will be digital infrastructure projects, where China’s advances — from fiber-optic cables to telecoms networks — will likely do more to affect U.S. security and commercial interests than any number of roads, railways or dams.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘A rebalancing away</strong> from the most toxic aspects of the Belt and Road would certainly limit China’s ability to ensnare smaller countries in debt and gain access to such strategic assets.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘But, it will also force the U.S.</strong> to compete against China’s underlying strengths and most compelling appeals rather than on the Belt and Road’s most obvious — and fixable — flaws.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

5. Expert Insights | 'China&rsquo;s Belt And Road: The New Geopolitics Of Global Infrastructure Development'

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0105"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="pdf-container"><iframe src=";embedded=true"style="width:100%; height:500px;border:none;"></iframe></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"><a href="" target="_blank">open in a new window</a></p><p class="excerpt"><em>'Ahead of China’s second Belt and Road Summit, Brookings convened seven Brookings scholars to interrogate popular perceptions of the initiative, as well as to evaluate the future of BRI and its strategic implications.'</em></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>The 28-page report </strong><a href="" target="_blank">'China’s Belt And Road: The New Geopolitics Of Global Infrastructure Development' </a> contains an edited transcript of the discussions.</p><ul><li><strong>Here</strong> are a few of the insights delivered by the experts.</li><li><strong>The 'Director's Summary</strong>' is right below this post.</li><li><strong>But</strong> the whole report is worth a read.</li></ul><hr /><h2>1. THE ORIGINAL RATIONALE FOR THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE</h2><p>⚡<strong>DAVID DOLLAR</strong></p><p><strong>‘President Xi Jinping</strong> branded the Belt and Road Initiative.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘I call it a branding</strong> because I see it as a global program.’</li><li><strong>‘A lot of its activities</strong> are in Latin America or Western Africa, which are clearly not part of any geography of the Belt and Road.’</li><li><strong>‘But I think</strong> the branding has proved to be quite brilliant.’</li></ul><p><strong>‘If I were going</strong> to make the positive case for BRI, I would say that many developing countries have very serious infrastructure deficiencies.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘You can try</strong> to attract private investments, but they generally require a very high rate of return, so that’s expensive.’</li><li><p><strong>‘Originally, the World Bank</strong> and other development banks were set up for this core function, but frankly, they’ve gotten out of the business.’</p></li><li><p><strong>‘China is offering</strong> to finance infrastructure, not at highly concessional terms, at what we would generally call commercial terms, but frankly at interest rates that most of these countries could not get from any other lender, unless they jumped through the hoops to go with the World Bank.’</p></li></ul><p><strong>‘Aside from money,</strong> the Chinese have underemployed construction companies so they have a lot of excess capacity.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘So, if they can</strong> get some business abroad, it’s not just financing.’</li><li><strong>‘They’re going to sell</strong> you the generator, they’re going to build the generator in their factories in China, and their construction companies are going to go execute the project.’</li><li><strong>‘Their construction companies</strong> are very competitive globally.’</li><li><strong>‘They win a majority</strong> of civil works contracts from the competitive bidding process in the World Bank and other banks.’</li></ul><p>⚡<strong>HOMI KHARAS</strong></p><p><strong>‘We also should not</strong> mistake BRI for an aid program.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Sometimes people</strong> try to compare BRI with the Marshall Plan, or something like that.’</li><li><strong>‘From a Chinese point of view,</strong> BRI is a way of making money, principally for their banks.’</li><li><strong>‘China has</strong> one of the largest financial systems in the world.’</li><li><strong>‘Chinese banks</strong> in aggregate have maybe $35 trillion worth of assets.’</li><li><strong>‘They’ve</strong> got almost no foreign assets.’</li><li><strong>‘So, how are you</strong> going to get a better balanced portfolio?’</li><li><strong>‘One way</strong> is to go abroad and try to have dollar-denominated assets.’</li></ul><hr /><h2>3. THE TRACK RECORD OF BRI</h2><p>⚡<strong>HOMI KHARAS</strong></p><p><strong>‘China</strong> has a very different way of resolving debt.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Some of it</strong> is direct debt forgiveness.’</li><li><strong>‘But very often,</strong> you also have contracts that say in return for debt forgiveness, China will accept payment in commodities instead of cash, or in return, China will accept a lease of the asset.’</li><li><strong>‘Beijing is prepared</strong> to take payment in many different forms other than just cash.’</li><li><strong>‘That’s actually quite different</strong> from a financial institution like the World Bank that, as far as I know, has only ever taken payment in the form of cash.’</li></ul><hr /><h2>6. (UN)SUSTAINABILITY OF BRI</h2><p>⚡<strong>HOMI KHARAS</strong></p><p><strong>‘China</strong> is actually modifying the initiative.’</p><p><strong>‘We are going to hear</strong> a lot from Xi Jinping at the BRI Summit this month.’ </p><p><strong>‘But everything</strong> he’s going to say was already, to some degree, previewed last year at the fifth anniversary of the Belt and Road Forum, where Xi gave a speech about how China is going to learn from its mistakes.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘Xi made arguments</strong> there about high quality, and about the importance of smaller projects with greater local impact.’</li><li><strong>‘He talked about</strong> how Belt and Road has been the big calligraphy; it’s time for the fine brush work.'</li><li><strong>‘He talked about</strong> more supervision.’</li><li><strong>‘He talked about</strong> how corporations represent China’s image when they’re abroad and they need to be more ‘strictly supervised, which is kind of the logical solution in the Chinese system, both through the party and ‘through the state.’</li><li><strong>And there</strong> are new state institutions to engage in that supervision.’</li><li><strong>‘So all of this suggests</strong> that there has been a recognition that there is a problem.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

6. Director's Summary | 'China&rsquo;s Belt And Road: The New Geopolitics Of Global Infrastructure Development'

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0106"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>Here is the Director's Summary</strong> of Brookings' <a href="" target="_blank">'China’s Belt And Road: The New Geopolitics Of Global Infrastructure Development.'</a></p><p><strong>Originally conceptualized</strong> as a “going out” strategy to develop productive outlets for domestic overcapacity and to diversify China’s foreign asset holdings, Beijing later branded the effort as its “Belt and Road Initiative.” While the initiative began with a predominantly economic focus, it has taken on a greater security profile over time.</p><ul><li><strong>China’s initiative</strong> has attracted interest from over 150 countries and international organizations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This is due, in part, to the fact that the initiative is meeting a need and filling a void left by international financial institutions (IFI) as they shifted away from hard infrastructure development. But there is a real possibility that the BRI will follow in the footsteps of the IFIs, encounter the same problems, and falter.</li><li><strong>China has been responsive</strong> to requests from recipient countries. This adaptability has made BRI resilient and attractive to recipient governments in spite of popular concerns expressed through the ballot box in multiple countries.</li><li><strong>BRI shouldn’t be seen</strong> as a traditional aid program because the Chinese themselves do not see it that way and it certainly does not operate that way. It is a money-making investment and an opportunity for China to increase its connectivity.</li><li><strong>The initiative has a blend</strong> of economic, political, and strategic agendas that play out differently in different countries, which is illustrated by China’s approach to resolving debt, accepting payment in cash, commodities, or the lease of assets. The strategic objectives are particularly apparent when it comes to countries where the investment aligns with China’s strategy of developing its access to ports that abut key waterways.</li><li><strong>Japan has long played</strong> a quiet but leading role in providing alternative options for recipient countries in need of capital-intensive infrastructure investment. Recently, Tokyo has undertaken significant reforms to elevate its ability to both compete with and complement BRI projects.</li><li><strong>China’s investments</strong> in strategically sensitive ports and its development of an overseas military base in Djibouti are of great concern to the United States. Additionally, BRI projects have caused unease in Washington and elsewhere due to their impact on democratic governance, debt sustainability, and existing international environmental and labor standards. Internationally, a growing number of developing countries are themselves expressing concern about Chinese intent.</li><li><strong>U.S. policymakers</strong> should adapt American strategy to respond to BRI. Some scholars believe that the right strategy is to multilaterize efforts, while others argue that it is to promote a race-to-the-top dynamic vis-à-vis China. Either strategy requires working proactively with allies and partners to regain the initiative on infrastructure programs, and to pre-emptively ring-fence areas of strategic concern from future Chinese investments. And there need to be increased efforts to foster an independent media in recipient countries that is capable of scrutinizing BRI projects</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>

7. QUIZ: How much do you know about the Belt and Road Initiative?

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0107"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt"></p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>China's CGTN</strong> has created a BRI quiz - that has some great graphics.</p><ul><li><strong>I only</strong> got a B+</li><li><strong>Let me</strong> know how you do.</li></ul><p><strong>'The second Belt and Road Forum</strong> for International Cooperation (BRF) will take place this April and all eyes will be on Beijing for the event.'</p><ul><li><strong>''Do you know how fresh crayfish</strong> got transported to Russia during the 2018 World Cup?'</li><li><strong>''What kind of benefits</strong> will the BRI bring to Belt and Road countries?'</li><li><strong>'And how did</strong> the BRI transform from the ancient "Silk Road" into the giant trade and infrastructure network that it is today?'</li></ul><h2><a href="" target="_blank">'Click here</a> to test your knowledge and find out more!'</h2></td></tr></tbody></table>

8. 'Durian "Little Thai" takes us on a journey along the Belt and Road'

<table class="nl_card" id="19may0108"><tbody><tr><td><table class="multi-block"><tbody><tr><td class="bg-holder"><img src="" alt="CHINADebate"></td></tr></tbody></table><p class="caption"></p><p class="excerpt">Thanks to the Belt and Road Initiative "Little Thai," the durian, has a smoother journey from Thailand to China.</p></td></tr><tr><td class="nl-post"><p><strong>Watch</strong>: <a href="" target="_blank">'Durian "Little Thai" takes us on a journey along the Belt and Road</a>' 3m video - life changing.</p><p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Jeremy Goldkorn of SupChina:</strong></a> 'Love weird Belt and Road propaganda?'</p><ul><li><strong>'You’ll enjoy this video</strong> “about a durian called ‘Little Thai’ who thanks the Belt and Road Initiative for helping its ‘durian brothers and sisters’ get a smoother ride to China to be eaten in ‘durian hot pot,’” as described by <a href="" target="_blank">MacroPolo associate Neil Thomas.'</a></li></ul><p><a href="" target="_blank"><strong>Euromoney:</strong></a> 'Belt and Road uses a durian in hope of better PR'</p><p><strong>'China</strong> has been having a hard time convincing the world of its noble intentions for the Belt and Road Initiative. </p><ul><li><strong>So, for the second Belt and Road Forum</strong> for International Cooperation, it has enlisted an unlikely ally: an animated durian fruit called Little Thai.'</li><li><strong>‘For the unfamiliar,</strong> durian is considered a delicacy in Asia, but is not universally beloved, much like Belt and Road itself.’</li><li><p><strong>‘Its smell is so rank</strong> and potent that it is banned on Singapore public transport, for example.’</p></li><li><p><strong>‘While it tastes</strong> – to Euromoney anyway – like antiseptic cheese-infused custard with an aftertaste of a burnt-out hairdryer motor.’</p></li></ul><p><strong>‘Anyway, in <a href="" target="_blank">a three-minute animation,</a></strong> Little Thai shows us around her durian orchard in Thailand and explains how the Belt and Road has helped to improve the ability for her to be sold in China and turned into durian hot pot and durian pizza.’</p><ul><li><strong>"How wonderful</strong> the life is in China!” says Little Thai.</li><li><strong>"We are hailed</strong> as the king of fruits by our Chinese friends."</li><li><strong>‘Little Thai</strong> also helpfully points out that durian exports from Thailand to China went up 700% last year, “as flourishing as my durian home.”’</li></ul><p><strong>‘Breaking somewhat</strong> from its children’s cartoon persona, our durian friend continues in a sing-song voice’:</p><ul><li><strong>"Little Thai heard</strong> that the government of Thailand is actively seeking greater complementarity between the Belt and Road and Thailand’s strategic planning."</li></ul><p><strong>‘Beijing needs</strong> all the good PR it can get for the initiative which has attracted concerns of asset-grabbing in markets like Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and Djibouti.’</p><ul><li><strong>‘That said,</strong> it seems a mothballed project emblematic of the problems, a high-speed rail link in Malaysia, may now be going ahead.’</li><li><strong>‘Which</strong> will be good for durians.’</li></ul></td></tr></tbody></table>