Silk Road

The £15bn Crossrail project is due for completion next year, whereas the £50bn HS2 is scheduled for completion in 2033. Both of these are minnows compared with China’s $900bn+ ‘Belt and Road’ project, presented by Xi Jinping over the weekend. The roadbuilding and shipping lane initiative led by China is the world’s largest-ever infrastructure initiative, impacting what has been identified by McKinsey as 65% of the world’s population and 1/3 of the world’s GDP. Its reach extends to the UK, as earlier this year the first freight train from eastern China arrived in London, and with both countries agreeing to link Belt and Road into the Northern Powerhouse. The trade benefits for China are clear; meanwhile, Philip Hammond also points to a role for the UK in finance, design and delivery.