JCC New Silk Road Forum examines the future of BRI
JCC's annual New Silk Road Forum took place on September 28, 2021 in partnership with the SCCC. This was the 6th such Forum organized by JCC since the BRI was announced by Premier Xi Jinping of China at Narzabayev University, Kazakhstan in October 2013. We are witnessing changes in the external environment affecting BRI and also a rearrangement of China's BRI priorities internally.
Externally, the COVID pandemic resulted in declining economic growth globally. This slowed the implementation of BRI projects in Eurasia. It has also reduced China's appetite for investment in large infrastructure projects in the region. There is a lot of geopolitical movement in reponse to BRI. This year G7 and EU introduced similar initiatives as a geopolitical alternative to BRI – G3W Build Back Better World that will invest in energy and infrastructure in low and middle income countries was introduced by the G7 in June 2021. The EU's Global Gateway also plans to invest in infrastructure, energy and digitalization in developing and emerging markets. According to Ursula van der Leyen, President of the EU Commission is "We want to create links and not dependencies!” So there is a shift in the West's embrace of BRI.
There have also been a shift in China's internal priorities – a focus on domestic growth, a realocation of capital from large infrastructure investments to green energy projects and an emphasis on the Indo-Pacific region.
In light of these changes there are a number of questions that speakers at the Forum addressed.
- Where do things stand with BRI in 2021, not least in light of the COVID pandemic?
- Has it delivered on its promise for the countries of Eurasia?
- Is it fulfilling China's original economic goals?
- Where to from here for BRI?
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