China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) casts a long shadow over Asia. Beijing’s effort to fill the yawning infrastructure gap — estimated to be in the trillions of dollars — is widely viewed as an attempt by China to extend its influence as well as meet local needs. Japan, the United States and like-minded governments are trying to respond to the BRI challenge, but they don’t have the financial resources to match China’s largesse.
Their effort to construct more creative responses has yielded the Blue Dot Network (BDN), a certification program that will set international standards for big infrastructure projects. The BDN is the right response to the BRI: It supports recipients, ensuring that the aid they get is an effective and sustainable response to their needs.