Working paper

Countries’ perceptions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: A big data analysis

Drawing on a global database of media articles, the authors quantitatively assess perceptions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in different c

Publishing date
06 February 2019

Drawing on a global database of media articles, we quantitatively assess perceptions of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in different countries and regions. We find that the BRI is generally positively received. All regions as a whole, except South Asia, have a positive perception of the BRI, but there are marked differences at the country level, with some countries in all regions having very negative views. Interestingly, there is no significant difference in perceptions of the BRI between countries that officially participate in the BRI and those that do not.

We also use our dataset of media articles to identify the topics that are most frequently associated with the BRI. The most common topics are trade and investment. Finally, we use regression analysis to identify how the frequency with which these topics are discussed in the news affects the perceptions of the BRI in different countries. We find that the more frequently trade is mentioned in the media, the more negative a country’s perception of the BRI tends to be. On the other hand, while investment under the BRI seems also to attract attention in the media, it is not statistically relevant for countries’ perceptions of the BRI.

About the authors

  • Alicia García-Herrero

    Alicia García Herrero is a Senior fellow at Bruegel.

    She is the Chief Economist for Asia Pacific at French investment bank Natixis, based in Hong Kong and is an independent Board Member of AGEAS insurance group. Alicia also serves as a non-resident Senior fellow at the East Asian Institute (EAI) of the National University Singapore (NUS). Alicia is also Adjunct Professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST). Finally, Alicia is a Member of the Council of the Focused Ultrasound Foundation (FUF), a Member of the Board of the Center for Asia-Pacific Resilience and Innovation (CAPRI), a member of the Council of Advisors on Economic Affairs to the Spanish Government, a member of the Advisory Board of the Berlin-based Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) and an advisor to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s research arm (HKIMR).

    In previous years, Alicia held the following positions: Chief Economist for Emerging Markets at Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Member of the Asian Research Program at the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), Head of the International Economy Division of the Bank of Spain, Member of the Counsel to the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, Head of Emerging Economies at the Research Department at Banco Santander, and Economist at the International Monetary Fund. As regards her academic career, Alicia has served as visiting Professor at John Hopkins University (SAIS program), China Europe International Business School (CEIBS) and Carlos III University. 

    Alicia holds a PhD in Economics from George Washington University and has published extensively in refereed journals and books (see her publications in ResearchGate, Google Scholar, SSRN or REPEC). Alicia is very active in international media (such as BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC  and CNN) as well as social media (LinkedIn and Twitter). As a recognition of her thought leadership, Alicia was included in the TOP Voices in Economy and Finance by LinkedIn in 2017 and #6 Top Social Media leader by Refinitiv in 2020.

  • Jianwei Xu

    Jianwei Xu is non-resident fellow at Bruegel. He is a senior economist at Natixis, Asia Pacific. He worked as a professor at Beijing Normal University. He was also a guest researcher at China Academy of Social Science and a youth member of the China Finance Forum 40.

    His research mainly focuses on international economics and labor economics. He is particularly interested in topics related to the Chinese economy. He has published many papers in academic journals and also writes policy articles for the media.

    He received his Ph.D. in economics from China Economic Research Center, Peking University in 2011. He was also a visiting student in Stern Business School, New York University, from 2009 to 2010.

Related content

Dataset

China Economic Database

Repository of what we consider to be the most relevant macroeconomic data for China and EU-China relations.

Alessia Amighini, Alicia García-Herrero, Michal Krystyanczuk, Robin Schindowski and Jianwei Xu