Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative unravels in Pakistan. @GordonGChang @ThadMcCotter

Feb 19, 04:00 AM

PhotoCaravan on the Silk Road, 1380

Cresques Abraham - Atlas catalan

Caravane sur la Route de la soie - Caravan on the Silk Road

Public Domain

File:Caravane sur la Route de la soie - Atlas catalan.jpg

Created: 31 December 1379

Xi Jinping's Belt and Road Initiative unravels in Pakistan. @GordonGChang @ThadMcCotter


But beneath the surface there is growing unease in China about BRI. And rightly so. With the country feeling an economic squeeze, fighting a trade war with the U.S. and facing criticism from nations receiving BRI funds, Chinese skeptics, including academics, economists and business people, of BRI are quietly asking if their government is putting its scarce resources to the right use. To be sure, there are no official announcements that Beijing is about to pare back Xi's BRI dreams. Tight censorship has removed any direct criticisms of BRI from the media.

Yet, one can detect tantalizing signs that Beijing is already curtailing BRI, at least rhetorically. The official propaganda machine, cranked to full steam to tout BRI's achievements not too long ago, has turned down the volume these days. In January 2018, the People's Daily, the Communist Party's mouthpiece, carried 20 stories on BRI. In January this year, there were only seven. If we keep track of BRI stories in the official Chinese media in 2019 and compare the coverage with previous years, we should have a clearer picture about where BRI is headed.