GRC Podcasts

On China'sNew Silk Road


Join host Mary Kay Magistad as she explores how China’s New Silk Road may change the world. Dozens of countries have invited China to build roads, railways, ports, 5G networks, and more. How is China’s global ambition seen around the world and what impact are its investments having on the ground? Over nine episodes, Mary Kay, a former China correspondent for NPR and PRX’s “The World,” partners with local journalists on five continents to uncover the effects of the most sweeping global infrastructure initiative in history.

From the Global Reporting Centre, “On China’s New Silk Road” launched on September 2, with new episodes dropping every Wednesday. Listen to the trailer below or subscribe now via Apple, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Castbox, Overcast, Deezer, RadioPublic, or iHeartRadio.

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For a list of reporters and contributors to this project, please visit this page.



Ethiopia and the Road Ahead

Chinese investment in Africa has built roads, railways, dams, and more, spurring new interest and competition from other global investors. Critics say China’s too often exploitative, including with loans that leave some countries too deeply in debt. But its investments helped famine-prone Ethiopia become one of the world’s fastest growing economies. Now, however, civil strife is putting that success at risk, for both Ethiopia and China.


The Other Asian Giant: India

China is one of India's top trading partners, but India has chosen not to be part of China's New Silk Road. It's not wild about a future in which China leads Asia, much less the world. Instead, India's offering its own investments and vision of a more multipolar world. And with Chinese and Indian troops in a tense stand-off on their contested border, India's strengthening its ties with the US, Japan, Australia and others, to counterbalance China's influence.


China’s Digital Silk Road

China is fast becoming a global leader in cutting edge technologies—such as AI, facial recognition, surveillance, and 5G—and is exporting them worldwide. Fans like the high quality and low cost. Critics say China’s technology enables authoritarian control and increases dependence on an autocratic state. They call for democracies, including the U.S., to work together to create a tech ecosystem that protects privacy and freedom of speech.


China’s Arctic Ambition

China’s leaders see climate change as an opportunity in the Arctic, where a new shorter trade route is emerging as ice melts. With its Polar Silk Road, China is targeting access to rare earths, uranium, fish stocks, oil, gas—and the strategic benefits of having a presence in the Arctic. China’s initiative has revived U.S. interest in the region and stoked concerns over an ambitious rising power.


China in America’s Backyard: Panama & Mexico

Many Latin American countries have joined China’s New Silk Road, including Panama, where Chinese companies now manage ports on both ends of the Panama Canal. As Mexico considers whether to join, some countries in the region are facing heavy pressure from the Trump Administration warning them not to get too close to China. Still, China's investments and loans are seen by many leaders as a way to help their economies.


Rough Seas: Malaysia, Cambodia & Thailand

Southeast Asian countries have long managed a complex relationship with China—the region’s biggest trading partner and powerful neighbor. The New Silk Road promises opportunities for economic growth, but at what cost? With China increasingly enforcing its disputed claims to the South China Sea with its military, many Southeast Asians are wary the New Silk Road will help China strengthen its ability to project its power in the region and beyond.


Old World, New Silk Road: Italy & Europe

Italian populists—skeptical of the value of EU membership—drove Italy to become the first G7 country to join China’s New Silk Road amid pushback from Europe and the US. Italians hoped this would boost their exports to China and increase Chinese investment in Italy. But not much happened. Then came the pandemic, and generous EU aid, leaving Italians to reassess who their real friends are, and how best to help their economy.


Paving the Old Silk Road: Kazakhstan & Central Asia

For centuries, Kazakhstan—situated on the overland route from China to Europe—has played an important role in global trading. Some Kazakhs are optimistic the New Silk Road will ultimately boost their country's economy, but others are wary of China's growing influence in the region, especially in light of its detention of Muslims in neighboring Xinjiang province. As a former Soviet republic that shares borders with both Russia and China, Kazakhstan looks to safeguard its independence as it negotiates a new relationship with China.


The China Dream

Chengdu is one of China’s fastest-growing cities, thanks to major investments in infrastructure. Now China’s taking its success at home on the road, promising that infrastructure done well can transform people’s lives around the world. Starting in Chengdu, a stop on both the ancient Silk Road and the new one, this episode looks at how China's effort to create what it's calling a "community of shared destiny" is building on its recent—and extraordinary—economic transformation within its own border.