Project description

Some detractors describe China’s Belt and Road Initiative as the most audacious challenge yet to America’s global primacy. It is certainly one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken and with close to a trillion dollars being invested across the globe it is set to dwarf the Marshall Plan which rebuilt Western Europe after World War II.
The aim of our infographic is to provide context to China’s aspirations. Beijing hopes that developing infrastructure will boost trade and stimulate economic growth across Asia and beyond. As well as connecting European cities directly with China, other ambitions include building a rail network to Iran to help build regional integration and long-term peace and stability in the Middle East

What makes this project innovative?

We pepper classic long-form storytelling with maps, graphs, diagrams of land elevations, infrastructure and risk-measurement charts, motion graphics, user interaction, and other media. By combining selective use of photography with data and reporting, we paint a vivid picture of the scope of the initiative.
The variety of techniques were selected to prevent the extensive data from appearing overwhelming. Readers can drill deep into stories jam packed with information and anecdotes or glean the essence by skimming through to the graphs. The split screen on the desktop version meant readers could refer to the route as they read the narrative

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

Headquartered in Hong Kong, straddling China and the rest of the world, the South China Morning Post is uniquely positioned to provide context and nuance to the China story. This data visualisation showcases our mission to inform people on topics related to China: none comes bigger than the Belt and Road Initiative.

The project was cited by Professor Jerome A. Cohen as the best introduction on China’s plans to revitalise the Silk Road on the respected Sinica podcast It also took the Golden Award as best visualization in the 2017 World Digital Wan-Ifra Awards
The Standard Chartered Bank often refer to this infographic when introducing clients looking to invest in Belt and Road projects

The publication date of May 15, 2017, was timed to coincide with the Belt and Road forum taking place in Hong Kong. While President Xi presented his plans to 28 of the world’s top leaders, the SCMP simultaneously explained how his initiative is likely to impact world policies and investments to some 53,000 of our online readers in America, Europe and Asia

Source and methodology

The main sources for this project are:

The Economist:
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a trusted and reliable source for precise data illustrating the political and economic situations of the countries the road will affect. With more than 70 years of experience, the EIU studies help dissect how economies evolve. Based on a report where each country is detailed under economic, political and infrastructure outlooks, we created several country profiles to show clearly, and in an easy to compare way, the current situation of the protagonists

Google Earth:
We wanted to show how geography is one of the most relevant factors likely to determine whether the new Silk Road will be a success but we felt a flat, or even a relief map, was insufficient to properly indicate the harsh terrain and breadth of the Belt and Road Initiative. Using Google earth we plotted and traced the path of each initiative to obtain height profiles and elevations to explain the extreme geographical environments and conditions

Technologies Used

Software used:
Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop…)
Brackets io
Corel Painter
Microsoft excel

Languages of development used:

Project members

Adolfo Arranz, Deputy head of graphics and illustration
Marcelo Duhalde, Infographics designer
Marco Hernandez, Infographic designer
Darren Long, Head of graphics and illustration


Additional links


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