On 7 October 2019, RSIS brought experts together to discuss the “Belt and Road Initiative: Impacts on Recipient Countries and Global Governance”. Co-organised by the RSIS’ China Programme and Public Policy and Global Affairs Programme of School of Social Sciences, the workshop provided a platform for speakers and participants to exchange views on the assessment of China’s economic statecraft and the impacts on the participating countries of the Maritime Silk Road. Participants attending the conference included academics and representatives from the Singapore government.
The panel discussions provided an in-depth analysis of China’s developmental impacts in the region and the evolving strategies and priorities in its flagship infrastructure projects. It started with an analysis of China’s records of development practice and norms in the global South before unpacking the domestic sources of Chinese development paradigm in its overseas infrastructure investment. The first two panels exchanged views that the “development” narrative had become an essential part of China’s foreign policy, and that its role in global development was too significant to diffuse as supported by different papers concentrating on methodology. The third and fourth panels offered comparative studies of Chinese regional infrastructure engagement in Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. Speakers focusing on different regions presented their perspectives on how the Chinese development paradigm in their region of focus has shifted or evolved.
Some of the other key issues discussed at the workshop included the Belt and Road Initiative’s impacts on domestic politics in mainland Southeast Asia and Indonesia. Although this workshop tilted its focus to the development impact in the region, the political impact that originated from the agencies of the host country and Chinese infrastructure investments deserved further observation.