Don’t be fooled by the Trump administration’s trade deal with Beijing. America is losing out badly on the bigger game.
With Washington in disarray, the Belt and Road Forum kicking off this weekend in Beijing should be a blaring wake up call that U.S. leadership in Asia is in peril. For two days, China will play host to more than 1,200 delegates from 110 countries, including 29 heads of state. The event will be centered on China’s “One Belt, One Road” program — more recently rebranded as the “Belt Road Initiative” (BRI) — which aims to provide much-needed infrastructure to connect Asia, the Middle East, and Europe.
Announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, BRI is nothing if not ambitious, with plans to involve upwards of 65 countries and marshal in the neighborhood of $1 trillion. While skepticism is warranted about the novelty, value, and feasibility of many of the proposed projects, leaders around the world — with nary a better prospect of satisfying their development needs — are pining to take part. This is only the latest manifestation of Chinese leadership at a time when U.S. commitment to the region is less certain than ever.