Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

This article covers “Daily Current Affairs” and the topic details “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)”. This topic has relevance in the “International Relations” section of the UPSC CSE exam.

For Prelims:

What is BRI? 

What are its principles? 

For Mains:

GS2:  International Relations

Why in the news?

The year 2023 commemorates ten years since President Xi Jinping introduced the ambitious infrastructure funding project known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in China.


About Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • In 2013, President Xi Jinping launched the Silk Road Economic ‘Belt’ focusing on revitalising trade and infrastructure connections between Asia and Europe, particularly through Central Asia.
  • Expanding on this, he later introduced the ‘Road,’ which aimed to establish sea trade infrastructure connecting China to Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa, prioritising the development of ports, bridges, industry corridors, and critical infrastructure throughout Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean.
  • While initially termed the One Belt One Road Initiative (OBOR), these projects have been commonly referred to as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) since 2015.
  • This ambitious undertaking involves the creation of an extensive network encompassing railways, energy pipelines, highways, and more efficient border crossings. 
  • As of now, over sixty countries, accounting for a significant portion of the world’s population, have either signed on to BRI projects or expressed their interest in doing so.
  • Behind the BRI lie both geopolitical and economic motives for China. The initiative aligns with China’s vision of a more assertive global presence. 
  • Additionally, factors like slowing economic growth and challenging trade relations with the United States have compelled Chinese leadership to seek new markets for its products.

Principles of BRI

  • The BRI was underpinned by five core principles initially: 
    • Policy Coordination
    • Infrastructure Connectivity
    • Trade
    • Financial Integration
    • People-to-People Connections 
    • Later, a sixth principle of ‘Industrial cooperation’ was added. 


India’s Position on the BRI

India’s stance on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has remained consistent since 2013.

  • Sovereignty Concerns: India’s main reservations stem from sovereignty issues, particularly regarding the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) passing through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
  • Geopolitical Implications: India is concerned about the geopolitical implications of the BRI’s expansion in the Indian Ocean region, as China’s presence grows, impacting trade, energy transport, and investments in neighbouring countries.
  • Broader Impact on Relations: Negative developments in India-China relations, such as the trade deficit and border tensions, further influence India’s view of the BRI.
  • Non-Endorsement and AIIB Participation: India refrains from endorsing the BRI and has not participated in BRI Forums. Instead, it has actively engaged with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) since its inception, emerging as a significant market for the agency.


China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been a central element of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) from its inception. Pakistan faces economic and political difficulties, but it remains committed to the CPEC, despite concerns about potential long-term economic consequences.

  • Cornerstone of China-Pakistan Partnership: The $60 billion CPEC is a crucial part of the “all-weather” strategic partnership between China and Pakistan, bolstered by a bilateral free trade agreement.
  • Project Focus: The CPEC emphasises energy projects to address Pakistan’s energy needs, alongside extensive infrastructure development and the strategic Gwadar port.
    • Strategic Objectives: The primary objectives of CPEC are to provide China with an alternate and shorter route to the Middle East and Africa, bypassing the Malacca Strait. Simultaneously, it seeks to promote Pakistan’s economic development and bolster its energy security.
  • Operational Achievements: Several CPEC projects are now operational, including the Sukkur-Multan section of the Peshawar-Karachi Motorway, the Havelian-Thakot section of the Karakoram Highway Phase II, the Lahore Orange Line Metro, and various operational energy projects such as coal-fired plants.
  • Regional Expansion: Some CPEC projects may extend into Afghanistan, potentially broadening the corridor’s regional impact.


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) serves as a platform through which China leverages its infrastructure, knowledge, and financial prowess to cultivate enhanced political connections with countries reliant on capital imports. In light of these evolving dynamics, it is imperative for India to carefully assess the geopolitical interests it holds in the Indian Ocean region. This critical examination is vital, as the Indian Ocean region presents potential security challenges that India must proactively address and navigate.


Sources: An Expert Explains | 10 years of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: The project, its aims and where it stands now | Explained News – The Indian Express 


Q1. With reference  Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), consider the following statements: 

  1. ‘Belt’ has a focus on revitalising trade and infrastructure connections between China to Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa.
  2. The ‘Road’ component, reminiscent of the Ancient Silk Road, will connect between Asia and Europe, particularly through Central Asia.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2 

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer: (d) 


Q2. Consider the following: 

  1. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a bilateral venture between Pakistan and China, aiming to enhance infrastructure and connectivity within Pakistan.
  2. CPEC is an integral component of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  3. CPEC’s main goals include offering China a more direct route to the Middle East and Africa, bypassing the Gulf of Aden.

How many of the abovementioned statements are correct ?

(a) Only one 

(b) Only two 

(c) All three 

(d) None

Answer: (b)

Q3. Discuss the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its evolution over the past decade. Evaluate India’s stance on the BRI.

No Comments

Post A Comment