SOAS University of London

Belt and Road Initiative Research Cluster

Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013 as China’s massive infrastructural development initiative to establish a vast network of road, rail and sea links connecting China with the neighbouring Central Asian states, Pakistan, the Gulf and Middle Eastern region, East Africa, and finally also with Europe. China is defining BRI both as a vision as well as a strategy to promote a model of ‘win-win’ infrastructural development through cooperation, coordination and complementarity. The establishment of the Asian Infrastructural Investment Bank (AIIB) and a number of other financial institutions by China denote the effort to set up alternative financial architecture to the existing neoliberal institutions. This research clustre brings together academics working on infrastructure, investment/trade and China's relations with Africa, Central Asia, Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.


Student testimonials:

Tami Ren
POL - PG - 2016 - Tami Ren - MSc Politics of China - Student profile IMG - 240,186,165t,56t

I completed my first degree in political science at the University of Madison, Wisconsin and it was there that my professor told me about SOAS and thought that it could be the place for me.

Normally, I am not a fan of big cities like London, but I like the location of SOAS.  It is in a quiet area, unlike some colleges, and the campus environment makes me feel safe and secure.  It is close to parks and museums, and because it has a real sense of identity, it makes you feel like you belong and makes you feel at home.

I have made lots of good friends amongst my classmates, and something that has really surprised me about SOAS is its inclusiveness: it is not just about the diversity of the campus, there is a second layer of inclusiveness where people from all backgrounds and cultures can find shared personal experiences.

I am interested in doing further study in the sociology of law, but first I need to do some more training.  I plan to do a PhD and then go onto teaching and research.  My time at SOAS has focused my knowledge and allowed me to get to know myself better.

Jacob Mardell
Jacob Mardell

I spent a year in China on a British Council scholarship, which allowed me time to immerse myself in the Chinese language, but I have always been interested in politics and writing about politics, and when it came to studying and finding out more about China and its political systems, the SOAS course seemed like the obvious choice.

I took Dr Yuka Kobayashi’s modules on International Politics, and I did my dissertation on the Belt and Road Initiative, which has led on directly to my current research.  My time at SOAS was the first step on this journey.

Since graduating, I have set up the China Road Project, and in 2019 I plan to embark on a year-long, 50,000km journey from London to Jakarta and back, by road, rail and cargo ship, following the route of the Belt and Road Initiative.  I’m on the road to conduct research on infrastructure projects, but I’m also there to learn from the places I visit.  I’ll be filming en route, and running a daily Instagram feed with videos and photos, documenting this process and sharing the adventure with friends and followers back home.