The Belt and Road Initiative is a grand ambitious plan to connect Asia with Europe and Africa along, and beyond, ancient trade routes by putting in place an unparalleled trade and infrastructure network. It was proposed by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. Some describe Xi’s scheme as the biggest development push in history. It can turn out to be the largest ever infrastructure project requiring nearly a trillion- dollar investment across the globe. By some estimates, China plans to pump $150.billion into such projects each year.

As per reports, there are plans for pipelines and a port in Pakistan, bridges in Bangladesh and railways to Russia — what China calls a “modern Silk Road”. Other high-profile schemes include a $1.1 billion port project in Sri Lanka, a high-speed rail link in Indonesia and an industrial park in Cambodia.

So far, the initiative has won support from more than 100 countries and international organisations, of which over 40 have signed cooperation agreements with China.

A total of 29 foreign heads of state and government leaders are attending the ongoing Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. Other delegates at the forum include officials, entrepreneurs, financiers and journalists from over 130 countries, and representatives of key international organisations. India skipped the meet.