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thediplomat_2014-05-08_17-47-26-386x230.pngFor China, the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road are opportunities to expand Chinese influence while also showcasing Beijing’s softer side. If brought to fruition, the Silk Roads would boost China’s trade with effectively the whole Eurasian continent. Meanwhile, with Beijing footing the bill for much of the requisite infrastructure development, the vast trade network would increase the number of regional governments that view China as a patron and benefactor rather than a threat. To use China’s favorite foreign policy catchphrase, it’s a “win-win” situation – China can foster a softer image for itself even while boosting its regional influence.