Mergers and acquisitions by Chinese companies in countries that are part of the Belt and Road initiative are soaring, even as Beijing cracks down on China’s acquisitive conglomerates to restrict capital outflows. Chinese acquisitions in the 68 countries officially linked to President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy totaled $33 billion as of Monday, surpassing the $31 billion tally for all of 2016, according to Reuters data. Unveiled in 2013, the Belt and Road project is aimed at building a modern-day “Silk Road”, connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa. At a summit in May, Xi pledged $124 billion for the plan, but it has faced suspicion in Western capitals that it is intended more to assert Chinese influence than Beijing’s professed desire to spread prosperity. The volume of all outbound mergers and acquisitions from China has dropped 42% year-on-year as of Monday.