As of March 2020, the number of countries that have joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China is 138*. , In connection with the Silk Road project, China is also trying to network worldwide research activities. Others claim that China is using BRI funds to gain influence in Balkan countries that are on track to become EU members, thereby providing Chinese access to the heart of the European Union’s common market. As Yau Tsz Yan emphasized on Eurasianet.org: “As confusion reigns, private companies, both Chinese and foreign, leverage the catchall phrase—whether to claim bragging rights or perpetrate outright scams: “One Belt One Road camel milk” produced with “German technology” in Kazakhstan; a Ponzi scheme appealing to Chinese tourists in Malaysia, disguised as part of the BRI; that Kyrgyz gold mine.  The Chinese government has promised to provide Pakistan with at least US$350 million by 2030 to finance this station. " European Commission Chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed an infrastructure agreement in Brussels in September 2019 to counter China's Belt and Road Initiative and link Europe and Asia to coordinate infrastructure, transport and digital projects. The wind power resources of central Asia would form one component of this grid. National Security and Defense Program, Right-Wing Extremists: A Looming Threat to the U.S. Election, In Brief For Xi, the BRI serves as pushback against the much-touted U.S. “pivot to Asia,” as well as a way for China to develop new investment opportunities, cultivate export markets, and boost Chinese incomes and domestic consumption.  The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state "gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on 'real assets' and infrastructure-driven economic growth". The Karot Hydropower Project, 50 km (31 mi) from Islamabad, Pakistan is the first project. Under President Donald J. Trump, Washington has raised alarm over Beijing’s actions, but it has struggled to offer governments in the region a more appealing economic vision. , South Korea has tried to develop the "Eurasia Initiative" (EAI) as its own vision for an east–west connection. This steering committee reports directly into the State Council of the People's Republic of China and is composed of several political heavyweights, evidence of the importance of the program to the government. The strategy will integrate China with Central Asia through Kazakhstan's Nurly Zhol infrastructure program..  Some geopolitical analysts have couched the Belt and Road Initiative in the context of Halford Mackinder's heartland theory. I've been on the road since '99, reporting from over 90. , The COVID-19 pandemic has stopped work on some projects, while some have been scrapped; focus has been brought on projects that were already of questionable economic viability before the pandemic. In the wide open, vaguely defined first stage of the Belt and Road the initiative had become an economic feeding frenzy. In my view this would not constitute a Belt and Road project.”. The Belt and Road initiative, recently embarked on by China, aims to improve cross-border infrastructure in order to reduce transportation costs across a massive geographical area between China and Europe. The consulting firm McKinsey looks at how the BRI could reshape global trade in this 2016 podcast. German chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the BRI "must lead to a certain reciprocity, and we are still wrangling over that bit".  Glacier melting as a result of excess greenhouse gas emissions, endangered species preservation, desertification and soil erosion as a result of overgrazing and over farming, mining practices, water resource management, and air and water pollution as a result of poorly planned infrastructure projects are some of the ongoing concerns as they relate to Central Asian nations..
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