In May 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a landmark speech at the inaugural ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation’ in Beijing, which was the culmination of a four-year effort by China to promote a grand geo-strategic infrastructure and economic stimulus plan across Eurasia. In his speech, Xi identified several important global challenges: global growth lacked impetus; development needed to be more inclusive; and the gap between rich and poor remained too wide. Xi also spoke of China’s concern over regional ‘hotspots’ such as the Middle East blighted by instability, conflict and terrorism.
While the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) faces risks and challenges, it has gained credibility to the extent that it has been described as Xi’s signature foreign-policy initiative. Global investment banks, strategic consultancies and venture capital companies are all showing interest. The BRI boasts a strategic blue-print and, its advocates claim, many of the practical elements of a potential strategic and developmental masterstroke for China, which might ultimately confer on China a leading geopolitical role in Southeast Asia, the Indian Ocean Region and even the Middle East.
Alexander Neill offered perspectives on the strategic impact and geopolitical challenges of the Belt and Road Initiative followed by a roundtable discussion.
This event was chaired by Dr Tim Huxley, Executive Director, IISS–Asia. It took place on Monday 24 October from 3–5pm at the IISS–Asia office.
Alexander Neill is IISS Shangri-La Dialogue Senior Fellow for Asia Pacific security at the IISS–Asia office in Singapore. He is responsible for the IISS China programme, developing a comprehensive research agenda with key partners from the strategic community in China.
Dr Tim Huxley is Executive Director of IISS–Asia in Singapore. He plays a leading role in organising the annual IISS Shangri-La Dialogue and the IISS Fullerton Forum: SLD Sherpa Meeting, as well as the IISS Fullerton Lecture series. He leads IISS research on the Asia-Pacific, edits the annual IISS Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment and contributes extensively to other IISS publications.