China's massive Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure program has long been viewed as a platform to project Chinese power across the globe, despite official assertions to the contrary. New findings from the New York Times have now reinforced that argument, giving more weight to the idea that the investment plan may not purely be the economic project that Beijing insists.
Last week, the Times said it had reviewed a confidential plan about China's military projects in Pakistan under the Belt and Road. According to the proposal, a special economic zone under the BRI's China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will be created to produce fighter jets while navigation systems and other military hardware will be jointly built at factories in Pakistan. That reveals how the world's second-largest economy "is for the first time explicitly tying a Belt and Road proposal to its military ambitions," the Times said.