Politics and International Relations
This roundtable will focus on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative on Southeast Asian nations, particularly the geo-political and economic effects of Chinese infrastructural projects in this region.
In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping announced 一带一路, “One Belt One Road” in English, which was later translated as the Belt and Road Initiative. Officially, the goal was to enhance regional connectivity through the construction of railways (sometimes high speed railways), roads, ports and other large infrastructural projects. However, in reality it has diverse geopolitical, geo-economic and normative goals. Estimates of the amount of money spent so far start at USD 200 billion. According to the Chinese government 150 countries are involved.
The Belt and Road Initiative increasingly faces criticism regarding the environmental and social impact, lack of transparency, and the sustainability of the debt recipient countries accrue, as well as other perceived negative effects. This has resulted in push-back in certain countries. All of this seems to have led to a point of reflection in Beijing, and President Xi Jinping said on 27 April 2019 in Beijing at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation:”We are committed to supporting open, clean and green development, and reject protectionism”
This roundtable will discuss the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative, and to what extent the positive effects outweigh the negative ones. It will particularly look at its impact on ASEAN and whether its member states become more susceptive to China’s foreign policy concerns. This roundtable will also discuss why countries respond in certain ways. Finally, China’s response to criticism in this regard will be discussed and ways in which recipient countries can minimize negative effects and maximize benefits.
The roundtable is organised as part of a larger discussion in various panels and roundtables at ICAS on the Belt and Road Initiative
The roundtable is sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.