China's flagship One Belt, One Road infrastructure program has far from enough financing right now, representatives from Beijing said in New York last week.
Chinese President Xi Jinping first announced in 2013 an ambitious initiative to build a network of infrastructure in underdeveloped regions south and west of China, similar to the ancient "Silk Road" that connected Asia with Europe.
This May, Xi kicked off a high-profile "Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation" in Beijing with a speech announcing China will contribute an additional 100 billion yuan ($14.68 billion) to the Silk Road Fund. He added that the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China will set up special financing worth a total of 380 billion yuan.
Despite those announcements, "there's a very big gap there," said Wei Jianguo, vice chairman of the board for the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, a think tank with close ties to the Chinese government.
The estimated cost for One Belt, One Road is in the trillions of dollars, and forecasts keep climbing. In February, the Asian Development Bank doubled previous estimates in a report that said developing Asia will need to invest $1.7 trillion a year, or about $26 trillion through 2030, to maintain growth momentum, eradicate poverty and tackle climate change.
Chinese leaders have emphasized One Belt, One Road is a project Beijing initiated in the expectation that other countries will participate.
The project does have some help from other nations. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which China launched last year with major U.S. allies, has already financed nine projects with a total $1.73 billion, according to an official Chinese media report earlier this year.