With BRI now at play, three implications and opportunities arise that transcend bilateral economic cooperation: infrastructural and trade interconnectivity, a closely-related “information Silk Road”, and Israel’s potential as mediator between the world’s two leading powers.
The nexus of infrastructure, transport and communications transmission routes paves the way for an unprecedented degree of interconnectivity embracing a community already exceeding 60 nations. China’s infrastructural footprint in Israel began with the Carmel Tunnels near Haifa in 2007, six years before BRI’s formal announcement. Yet, it is the projected “Med-Red” railway linking Eilat with Ashdod, reportedly to be constructed by China, that could transform Israel into a land bridge along the Maritime Silk Road.
A massive infrastructure push is underway across Asia. The region’s infrastructure market could grow by 8 percent annually over the next decade, rising to nearly 60 percent of the global total. All told, the region’s infrastructure needs are estimated to exceed $1 trillion annually. China’s “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative is at the center of this push. Estimates vary, but all point toward an ambitious endeavor. Geographically, OBOR could span 65 countries responsible for roughly 70 percent of the world’s population. Economically, it could include Chinese investments approaching $4 trillion.