by Prof. Richard Pomfret
China's Belt and Road Initiative has attracted attention as a blueprint for increased Chinese leadership in the Eurasian economy. I argue that the BRI is better seen as a portmanteau initiative combining elements that have evolved from various economic and political origins. The overland Belt builds on a firm economic foundation as EU-China rail links have been established and extended since 2011 in response to demand. It is important for Central Asia, because overland routes from China mostly traverse the region and provide an opportunity for exporters to benefit from lower trade costs. This is especially important as Central Asian governments seek to diversity their economies after the resource boom.