If China wants to lead the global order, it will need more than the Belt and Road Initiative

tags: China, Marshall Plan, international affairs, Belt and Road Initiative

Gregory Mitrovich is a research scholar at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University and author of "Undermining the Kremlin: America’s Strategy to Subvert the Soviet Bloc, 1947-1956."

The decision by Italy and Luxembourg to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has once again raised alarm bells in both Washington and Brussels over Beijing’s increasing global influence — now extending to the European Union’s core. The E.U. is particularly worried that the expansion of the BRI into Europe will enable China to promote “alternative models of governance” that will challenge Western liberalism not only in Asia, but also around the world.

Since the BRI’s launch in 2013, the Chinese have issued over $200 billion in loans, with a total investment of up to $1.3 trillion by 2027. Many warn that the BRI is on a par with the Marshall Plan — the U.S. economic recovery program that rebuilt post-World War II Europe and established the American century. They cite the figure that BRI is arguably 12 times the sizeof the Marshall Plan, demonstrating an even greater effort to reshape the international community by writing new rules and creating new institutions that will “reflect Chinese interests.”

And yes, China aspires to replace the United States at the center of the global community. However, the U.S. experience after World War II demonstrates that the resources required to succeed are well beyond anything the Chinese have so far planned to commit. Despite the claims of many U.S. and Chinese analysts, the Belt Road Initiative is not comparable in either scale or impact to the Marshall Plan, especially when combined with other U.S. aid programs of the period.

While China’s infrastructure spending has increased its footprint around the world, U.S. aid during and after World War II did far more, saving democracy during the war and rebuilding the world in the years following. The costs were high. But the results, which helped the world recover so quickly from such a terrible war, ultimately legitimated U.S. global leadership.

Read entire article at Washington Post

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