Shops and supermarkets often advertise their loyalty cards with the slogan – “Be part of a club that everyone is talking about”. In the geopolitical field, such a club arguably exists today. It is called One Belt One Road (OBOR), a U.S. $1 trillion signature project of China’s President Xi Jinping that is said to be the largest overseas investment initiative that has ever been launched by a single nation (Financial Times, 2017.05.04).

On the 14th of May 2017, 29 heads of state and over 60 leaders of international organisations including the UN Secretary General António Guterres; President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim; and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde; as well as 130 government representatives, gathered at the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing (The Diplomat, 2017.05.16; Zaobao, 2017.05.14). This two-day summit further boosted the international clout of China’s mammoth project.

Indeed, as noted by many Western observers, OBOR carries a strong political message that reveals Beijing’s growing ambition to counter US influence in Eurasia and the Asia Pacific. Nevertheless, if Western businesses can look beyond the geopolitical aspect of OBOR, the mega initiative in fact brings immense business opportunities, not only to China, but also to Western companies and investors for decades to come. Having a clear vision of the prospects of OBOR can therefore help Western companies identify and effectively tap into the opportunities provided by the initiative.

Nevertheless, since the project traverses 65 countries whose linguistic, regulatory and political environments are vastly different, it is also crucial for companies to have an in-depth understanding of the associated risks of OBOR so as to avoid pitfalls and losses.