China’s Grand Plan

Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative is certainly ‘grand’. But who will it benefit?

China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) is one of the most remarkable external development strategies that a single state has envisaged. If only partly successful, it promises to place the Chinese economy at the centre of a dense network of business, financial, cultural and even political relationships that will enhance Beijing’s global standing. And that might be part of the problem. Many states along both belt and road will welcome Chinese trade, investment and expertise, especially if it is accompanied by access to China’s huge domestic market. But some will be wary, concerned that Beijing is keen to ‘buy’ geopolitical influence in South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, where at best it is currently a secondary player. Russia, India and Japan have their concerns too. Geopolitics aside, there is the matter of commercial terms and conditions to consider: China is known to drive a hard bargain.

  • Does BRI offer China’s partners a fair deal or one that creates undesirable dependencies?
  • 'Ins and outs’: Which states and which sectors will benefit most from BRI?
  • Is BRI mainly a challenge or an opportunity for established multinationals?
  • Is BRI here to stay or might it falter in the event of change in Beijing?

Speakers