26 June 2019
From 20-21 June 2019, the SOAS China Institute in association with the Silk Road Economic Development Research Center of Hong Kong held an international conference on the Belt and Road Initiative at SOAS University of London. This conference examined how this flagship foreign policy initiative of President Xi Jinping is affecting the key regions in the world along both the Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road, and how countries thus affected are responding.
SOAS academics with extensive expertise in the regions concerned and leading international experts were brought together to brainstorm, taking a multi-disciplinary approach to examine and debate the many complex issues involved.
"The BRI initiative is a highly complex, but vaguely defined Chinese phenomenon. While China’s role and motivations have been extensively researched, the effects in the host countries are not adequately explained by current research. This conference has really opened my eyes to the overwhelmingly heterogenous multilateral relationships. In particular, the MENA region is comprised of various different countries with very specific economic and political ties with China in relation to the BRI. Furthermore, Dr Macaranas, in his presentation on the risks for host countries, highlighted that 8 current recipient countries are currently potentially at risk of succumbing to foreign debt. To understand these relationships, we need to know not only about China but also about the recipient countries. For this reason, I take away from the conference that we should engage non-China experts to understand the role of China, in these countries and I think this conference has done just that," commented Simon Vitting, SOAS Research Development Officer and Teaching Fellow.
This conference was hosted in collaboration with:
- SOAS South Asia Institute
- SOAS London Middle East Institute
- SOAS Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus
- SOAS Centre of African Studies
- SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies