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Backlash could cost Xi’s Belt and Road $800bn

A new report suggested the backlash to China’s political and trade policies could shave as much as $800bn off investment in President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, amid mounting concerns about the geopolitical price of doing business with Beijing.

The report published from consultancy Silk Road Associates and law firm Baker McKenzie outlined five scenarios for future BRI investment. The most optimistic is a “global cooperation model” that sees China spending more than $1.3tr globally between 2020 and 2030. The most pessimistic is “uni-polar” and weighs the impact of a recession, growing nationalism and more aggressive competition, predicting investment might only reach around $560bn.

The report’s release came as Hong Kong kicked off a Belt and Road investment summit attended by several Chinese officials, one of whom urged the city’s residents to stop protesting and seize the opportunities offered through China’s regional infrastructure spending plans. The Asian financial hub has seen months of unrest that have taken a toll on its economy, including tourism and retail.

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