ONCE UPON A TIME

Watch: China’s new Silk Road, explained for American children

Obsession
China's Transition
Obsession
China's Transition

China seems to believe that its economic policies make good fodder for bedtime stories.

To promote Chinese president Xi Jinping’s grand plan to build a new Silk Road—an initiative known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR)—state-owned media China Daily this week started publishing a series of videos called “Belt and Road Bedtime Stories” geared toward children of foreigners.

China has long pushed its policy agenda to its youth, with schools demanding students memorize leaders’ signature policies from a young age. But apparently, it’s also trying to win the hearts and minds of young foreigners ahead of its Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on Saturday (May 13). At the forum, leaders of various countries, including Pakistan and the Philippines, will discuss China’s plan to establish a new Silk Road, which includes building infrastructure in Asia and Europe (paywall).

In the first episode released May 7, Erik Nilsson, an American journalist who works at China Daily, explains to his five-year-old daughter, Liliana, that he will be leaving for a few days to attend the forum. With the aid of a toy boat, camel, and train, Nilsson dives into a brief history of the Silk Road and the objectives of OBOR. “More stuff can move around the world more easily, and people can travel more easily and build things countries need,” explained Nilsson.

Nilsson continues championing OBOR in the following episode, released the next day, talking about the need for cooperation between countries. He offers examples such as trade, tourism, and international schools.

“Like I’m American and I go to school in Beijing?” she responds. “A lot like that, but the United States hasn’t joined the initiative,” he answers.

Given the complexity of OBOR, Nilsson promises to continue his explanation another night, but it’s unclear how many more videos will be released.

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