SOAS University of London

Belt & Road Initiative: Bringing the East and the West Together?

15 January 2019
IMG - BRI Panel 26 11 2018

How we should understand China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and what it means are two of the key themes addressed in this Panel Discussion organised by the SOAS China Institute on 26 November 2018. The two panellists from Hong Kong, Joseph Chan and Thomas Chan explained the views of the Chinese Government and many citizens of the People’s Republic of China.  London based Charlie Parton took an alternative view and challenged some of the key assumptions of the Chinese Government.  Indeed, whether it would be more useful to try to understand China’s ‘going out’ policy exemplified by BRI in a different way, as China’s approach to globalization, was discussed.

The panellists not only debated with each other.  They also discussed a wide range of views or questions put by members of the audience at this Panel Discussion. How mutually beneficial is the BRI in reality?  Is China’s readiness to lend to countries which may not be able to pay back some of the debts for massive infrastructural projects a good or bad policy? Is it right and fair to see China’s approach as primarily intended to serve its national interest?  These are just some of the issues raised.

Whether the BRI will in fact bring the East and the West together through massive investments in infrastructural projects is too early to say.  But it has certainly brought the two together in debating how we should understand this important policy initiative of the Chinese Government.

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