By Joel Wuthnow
China Strategic Perspectives 12
Chinese officials have downplayed the security dimensions of Xi Jinping’s signature foreign
policy initiative—the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). However, Chinese strategists have
extensively analyzed three major issues: strategic benefits the BRI can provide for China, key
security risks and challenges, and ways to reduce those risks. This study surveys their views and
comments on implications for U.S. strategy. Key findings include:
The main strategic benefits of the BRI include bolstering regional stability, improving China’s
energy security, and amassing influence in Eurasia.
Implementing BRI projects could be frustrated by domestic and regional instability, nontraditional
security threats, and strategic balancing from other major powers.
China will have to marshal military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic tools to counter
perceived threats to the BRI’s long-term viability.
U.S. strategy should seek to check China’s geopolitical ambitions while advancing mutually
beneficial cooperation where possible.