I apologize, in advance for lodging this tune in your head, but just think about it as a global economics lesson.Last week Chinese General Secretary Xi Jingping launched the Belt and Road initiative, a plan for China to fund infrastructure around the world to make a more seamless path to Europe. The belt is an actual physical road that will connect China and Europe, and the road is a trade route (think Silk Road) that includes maritime shipping lanes and freight. At the Belt and Road Forum (yes, BARF), Jinping laid out the plan to pump $150 billion a year into 68 countries to promote trade and strengthen the Chinese foothold.
Of course, with sweeping economic plans comes catchy pop culture propaganda. On May 13, a government-run Chinese media company released, "The Belt and Road, Sing Along", a swanky, highly produced music video to get people on board with the Belt and Road.The song itself is some sort of pop-jazz-funk melody. There's some English, including the chorus, but mostly it's in Mandarin. And the star is an unnamed boy band strumming their guitars and walking along train tracks. Then there are some young teenage girls with choreographed dance moves, an elegant woman flitting about, and a random white guy. To top it off there is a giant panda conducting a flock of schoolgirls in a chorus singing, literally, "Extensive consultation, Joint contribution and shared benefits." (Did you write that, Bob Dylan?)I'm not sure why the US is so stiff and boring when it comes to our infrastructure plans and government initiatives. Why can't we get a catchy pop song for bringing broadband to rural America? The funnest things I've seen are student-made D.A.R.E. videos.As you hum along to The Belt and Road, tapping your feet, it's easy to forget what we're listening to here. China wants to underwrite huge infrastructure projects all over the world: a coal plant in Sri Lanka, exporting to Pakistan, and expanded electricity grids in Central Asia. This isn't exactly new—China has already funded public transport in Ethiopia, for example—but it's at an unprecedented scale that will shift global trade.But while we wait for more plans to unfold it's probably just good to numb the anxiety of shifting global powers with a song, and why not the Belt and Road?