The Coming Infrastructure Explosion, Part 2

GRANTED, BY THE standards of Western tabloids, it wasn’t the catchiest headline around. But it did make the point. On September 7, 2013, China’s ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement about an address delivered at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University headlined, “President Xi Delivers Important Speech and Proposes to Build a Silk Economic Belt with Central Asian Countries.”

An important speech indeed—the first public iteration of Xi’s ambitious, expansive plan to link, by land and sea, economies of Central Asia and South Asia with China and each other and with lands beyond. Evoking the old Silk Road traveled by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, the initial plan had two parts: a land route ...

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