The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy vision that was launched in 2013. It aims to revive ancient overland and maritime trade routes, as well as link China to Europe, Africa and the rest of Asia by building a network of ports, roads, railways and trading hubs. The BRI gives rise to major economic and commercial opportunities and will go a long way towards addressing the Asian Development Bank’s estimate of the USD 26 trillion infrastructure funding gap faced by Asia through 2030. Nonetheless, it has been subject to some controversy and criticisms of “debt-trap diplomacy”.
In April, China hosted the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing, which was attended by leaders from 37 countries and delegates from over 150 countries. The Forum sought to address international criticism over the project, with discussions focused on making the BRI more inclusive with regard to partner countries, and for projects to meet more stringent, internationally recognised standards and best practices. There was also a push to ‘green’ the BRI with more eco-friendly designs, environmentally safe factories and the expansion of green financing and trade.
Hosted in partnership with KPMG, this Asia House briefing will host Dr Zheng Zeng, Senior Researcher and Director of the Market System Division, Market Institute at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Dr Zeng will speak about the key takeaways from the Forum and the challenges that China will face as it seeks to address international concerns related to the BRI. The NDRC is China’s top government agency in charge of formulating and implementing policies, initiatives and strategies to guide the country’s socioeconomic development, economic structuring process and opening up. At the NDRC, Dr Zeng’s work focuses on research and providing advice to the government on macroeconomic and international economics, market trends and reforms, regional policy, industrial policy, and corporate development and strategy.