- Big infrastructure projects have been the hallmark of the Belt and Road Initiative over the past decade, but they have often come with economic and political risk
- Analysts say that smaller, less treacherous projects are likely to dominate in the years ahead, including in the digital, healthcare and environmental spaces
China is likely to work on smaller, less risky and more profitable trade-linked infrastructure projects overseas in the coming years after a number of larger ones under the Belt and Road Initiative encountered financial problems that drew international attention, analysts say.
This matches what Chinese officials and state media began calling “small but beautiful” additions to the globe-spanning Belt and Road Initiative in 2021, the analysts said, with the projects possibly led by smaller state-run companies or private firms.
“That would line up with China’s focus on a more sustainable approach to the Belt and Road Initiative, particularly right now as Beijing confronts worsening credit and debt distress across a range of partners,” said Nick Marro, lead analyst with the Economist Intelligence Unit forecasting and advisory service.