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Belt and Road

Paving the way to global trade


Belt and Road initiative

China's Belt and Road Initiative is an ambitious international development strategy that aims to increase trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond.

Spanning some 60-plus countries across the world, China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, formerly known as One Belt One Road/OBOR) is a programme that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between China, the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

The "Belt" refers to economic and overland transport links connecting China to Central Asia and Europe via six economic corridors, while the "Road" indicates a network of maritime routes connecting Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Middle East, Africa and Europe.

The six economic corridors

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Belt and Road regions

We have been at the forefront of advising Chinese investors and funders in respect of the initial wave of Belt and Road investment. Our experience in the Belt and Road regions long pre-dates the announcement of the initiative and, as the graphic below shows, our firm's geographical footprint closely aligns with the key target markets. In addition to our physical offices in key locations along the Belt and Road routes, we also operate a number of country or region business groups, which provide specialist expertise.


Herbert Smith Freehills has extensive experience in the key markets along the routes of the Belt and Road Initiative, having worked in these regions long before the announcement of China's Belt and Road policy in 2013.  With an office network spanning the length of the routes and leading expertise in financing, investment, project development and trade regulation and dispute resolution, we are ideally positioned to assist Chinese and international contractors, investors and financiers in respect of complex BRI-related matters.

  • We have advised on over 30 investments and projects in BRI countries in the last four years.
  • We are 'go-to' advisers to a number of the SOEs and quasi-governmental organisations that are protagonists of BRI, and
  • With over 30 years' experience in China, we provide 'on-the-ground' expertise that understands the country's dynamic business environment through long-established offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
  • We understand Chinese business methods and corporate culture, and possess an in-depth knowledge of the Mainland's regulatory and political landscape, assisting Chinese clients to become sophisticated and respected players in the international arena.
  • We operate  a dedicated, cross-border BRI working group, comprising over 80 lawyers globally from a range of offices and practice areas who work together to assist clients in relation to BRI projects and also regularly engage with non-Chinese clients to help them understand what BRI means for them.

To read more about some of our work on Belt and Road related projects, see our Belt and Road related case studies below.