Collecting data on Membership in the Belt and Road Initiative

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Which states are members of the BRI and when did they join the initiative?

Novel global data on BRI membership

We collected data on the BRI membership status of all sovereign states in the international system including island states and micro-states (N=249). We measure BRI membership with signatures of Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and other cooperation agreements with China, which express a state’s willingness to participate in the BRI. We coded for each sovereign state whether it has signed a bilateral agreement with China in the context of the BRI and when the bilateral agreement was signed (on a monthly level). If a state has signed multiple bilateral BRI agreements with China, we code the date of the first agreement. Given that only a few of these agreements are publicly available, we rely on secondary sources such as newspaper articles, policy briefs, and academic publications to identify whether a state became a member of the BRI. We coded a state only as a BRI member if we have traced at least one piece of evidence that explicitly states that a given state has signed a bilateral BRI agreement with China. The sources for our coding decisions can be obtained upon request from the authors of this project.

While we studied an extensive amount of sources to identify the BRI membership status of each state, it is possible that we were unable to identify some BRI agreements. Consequently, we might under-count the actual number of member states in the BRI. Further, it is possible that we were unable to identify the first BRI agreement of a given state, resulting in lagged reporting of the date of entry. We seek to minimize these biases by relying on the insights of country experts and other BRI specialists. If you spot a mistake in the data presented below, we would appreciate to receive your suggestion of improvement. Please contact us with your suggestion via email (bri-china[at], ideally with a piece of evidence supporting your correction. We carefully consider each suggestion of improvement and revise the data accordingly if the correction is supported by credible evidence. We believe that this crowd-sourcing of BRI expertise in combination with our careful validation procedure will further increase the accuracy of our global BRI membership data.

Overview of the data

We try to give an overview of our data here. The following maps display the global membership in the BRI. The first figure displays the growth in membership in the BRI over time, the second displays global membership in the BRI and the year of accession. A major surge in membership was the year 2018. Various countries decided to join the BRI in that year.

Global membership over time

Global membership in the BRI

However, especially for smaller countries, it is difficult to identify the year of accession. We, therefore, present a selection of continents and regions that allow for a more in-depth look at the participatory patterns of states in different regions across the globe.


Only a few countries in Africa are not yet members of the BRI. Namely, Western Sahara, Eswatini, Malawi, Burkina Faso, and Niger. All other countries in Africa signed membership agreements. A majority did so in 2018.


Across Europe, an interesting pattern emerges, namely that most North-Western countries in Europe have decided not to join the Belt and Road Initiative. An example, of difficulties with the data, is that earlier projects, such as the acquisition of parts of the Piraeus Harbor in Greece, took place long before the two countries signed an agreement. Greece became an official BRI member only in 2018.


In South-East Asia few countries have not joined the Belt and Road Initiative, namely Brunei and Malaysia. After an initial, early period of accesio0n in 2013, it took until 2016 for other countries to join the BRI.

South East Asia

Latin American countries have, by now, also joined the BRI in relatively large numbers, however, compared to South-East Asia, they did so relatively late, 2017 at the earliest.

Latin America

From a scholarly perspective, the data we have collected offers interesting variation in membership, such as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Both countries are located on the island of Hispaniola, however only one of the two countries, the Dominican Republic, has joined the BRI (in 2018).


Countries without accession information

The following table contains those countries for which we could not find membership information, i.e. we argue that these countries are not members of the BRI. As mentioned above, if you spot an error in our data, please contact us at bri-china[at]

Åland IslandsAXLiechtensteinLI
American SamoaASMacedonia, the Former Yugoslav Republic ofMK
AntarcticaAQMarshall IslandsMH
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBQNetherlandsNL
Bouvet IslandBVNew CaledoniaNC
British Indian Ocean TerritoryIONigerNE
Burkina FasoBFNorfolk IslandNF
CanadaCANorthern Mariana IslandsMP
Cayman IslandsKYNorwayNO
Christmas IslandCXPalauPW
Cocos (Keeling) IslandsCCParaguayPY
CuraçaoCWPuerto RicoPR
Falkland Islands (Malvinas)FKSaint BarthélemyBL
Faroe IslandsFOSaint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSH
FinlandFISaint Kitts and NevisKN
FranceFRSaint LuciaLC
French GuianaGFSaint Martin (French part)MF
French PolynesiaPFSaint Pierre and MiquelonPM
French Southern TerritoriesTFSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesVC
GermanyDESan MarinoSM
GibraltarGISint Maarten (Dutch part)SX
GreenlandGLSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsGS
GuamGUSvalbard and Jan MayenSJ
HaitiHTTaiwan, Province of ChinaTW
Heard Island and McDonald IslandsHMTokelauTK
Holy See (Vatican City State)VATurkmenistanTM
HondurasHNTurks and Caicos IslandsTC
IndiaINUnited KingdomGB
IrelandIEUnited StatesUS
Isle of ManIMUnited States Minor Outlying IslandsUM
IsraelILVirgin Islands, BritishVG
JapanJPVirgin Islands, U.S.VI
JerseyJEWallis and FutunaWF
Korea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKPWestern SaharaEH
Korea, Republic ofKR