China and Inner Asia
Since the announcement of China’s “Going Out” policy in 1999, Chinese outbound investment has increased dramatically. Chinese enterprises are constructing roads, ports, mines, and power plants on nearly every continent, bolstered by finance from China’s banking sector. Some scholars point to the potential benefits of Chinese capital, but others have highlighted its negative environmental and social impacts. At the same time, China is shifting its own economy toward a greener, lower-carbon model, and has invested heavily in clean technologies. China’s leaders claim that green development will be the centerpiece of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an unprecedented global strategy for regional integration and infrastructure investment. With a projected US$900 billion commitment from Chinese financial institutions, the BRI promises to reshape development trajectories and the environment in ways that are as yet unclear. Will increased Chinese outbound investment deliver on its “green development” claims? Or will China merely export its carbon-intensive, polluting industries to other countries?
This roundtable session, the first in a two-part panel, draws together leading experts from academia, civil society, and media to discuss the environmental risks and opportunities of Chinese outbound investment.
Orville Schell is the director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society. He will offer framing and conceptual remarks on the notion of a “green BRI”. Kelly Sims Gallagher is a professor at Tufts University and a former senior advisor on climate change to the White House and State Department. She will discuss empirical research on the environmental impacts of Chinese outbound investment. Fuqiang Yang is a senior adviser at the Natural Resources Defense Council. He currently leads a major project on “greening” the BRI, working with Chinese researchers, regulators, and NGOs. Jingjing Zhang is a Chinese environmental public interest lawyer, known as China’s “Erin Brockovich.” She will discuss recent investigations on environmental conflicts associated with Chinese outbound investment. Alex Wang is a professor at UCLA School of Law. He will discuss the implications of Chinese outbound investment for debates over environmental rule of law and good governance. Kaiser Kuo (moderator) is co-founder of the Sinica Podcast and editor-at-large of SupChina.