Religious challenges and risks to the Belt and Road Initiative


  • James C. Wallace


Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, religion, religious freedom, FoRB, Xi Jinping, Xu Yihua, Asia-Pacific, Sino-U.S., Sino-American, Vatican


A serious gap exists in research into the religious dimensions of the “new Silk Road,” which stretches from the east coast of China to the heart of Europe. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013, is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects ever conceived. Yet it is more than a commerce and communications corridor. Religious peoples, beliefs, ideas, and practices transverse the BRI, challenging China and the United States as they advance competing visions of religious freedom. This article offers an historical and policy perspective on the religious challenges facing the BRI rather than an advocacy approach.