The Silk Road Economic Belt—the overland component of Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—promises to bind China to Central Asia and beyond through a new infrastructural network. Connecting through China’s far western Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the belt, alongside a network of pipelines and highways constructed since the early 2000s, is part of a larger effort to stake a Chinese claim to the resource wealth of Central Asia.

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