China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) seals its place among the world’s economic powerhouses. While centered on commercial development, the BRI is also framed in relation to culture and China’s soft power expansion. Distinct from Buddhism, Confucianism is viewed in cultural as opposed to religious terms. Nonetheless, both raise questions about religion’s role in China’s growth trajectory. This roundtable discussion aims to address the following questions: How does the BRI impact upon religion in China and elsewhere? How will China seek to employ religious resources as part of the BRI in its soft power strategy? What will be distinctive about China’s approach to expanding religion in the BRI as opposed to the way other countries have sought to spread religious teachings?
About the Speaker
Zhuo Xinping is Director of the Institute for the Study of World Religions within the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences since 1998. He has served as president of the Chinese Religious Studies Association since 2001 and has held visiting positions at Tsinghua University and the University of Birmingham. In 2006 he was elected to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and in 2008 he was elected to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. Dr Zhuo has authored some 20 books and more than 100 articles on religious studies, with a focus on Christianity and its development around the world and in China.