China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is officially neither a Chinese “Marshall Plan” nor a geopolitical master strategy. At present, it involves 84 countries, rising from 65 countries in 2015, and 15 Chinese provinces. Over the last year, the number of countries being concerned or ambivalent about China’s motivations and strategic objectives behind the BRI have increased. Despite officially supporting China’s BRI, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) also warned last April, that China is supporting unneeded and unsustainable projects in many countries, leading to heavy and unpayable debt burdens. In ASEAN, Chinese investments are welcomed but there are also misgivings about the BRI’s strategic objectives which may constrain ASEAN’s policy options. As China is presently and will remain the single most influential country in global energy markets in the next decades, it is not surprising that its infrastructure plans of building railways, highways and ports are often interlinked with China’s energy and raw materials projects abroad and its domestic energy policies. This paper analyses the energy dimensions of the BRI and its strategic implications for its wider economic, foreign and security policies in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East.
About the Author
Frank Umbach has been appointed as Adjunct Senior Fellow in RSIS with effect from 22 September 2017. Dr Umbach graduated from the University of Bonn with a MA degree in Political Science and a PhD (“Dr Phil”). He is presently the Research Director of the European Centre for Energy and Resource Security (EUCERS) at King’s College in London as well as a Senior Associate at the Centre for European Security Strategies (CESS GmbH), Munich and a Visiting Professor at the College of Europe in Natolin (Warsaw) in Poland, teaching on “EU External Energy Governance”. Furthermore, he is also an Executive Advisor at Advisor at Proventis Partners GmbH (an M&A company), Munich, and a consultant for the Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG) and Wikistrat.com. Since 2014, he is an independent “Subject Matter Expert (SME)” on international energy security of NATO’s annual “Strategic Forecasting Analysis (SFA)” and a regular presenter at high-level NATO conferences on energy security. He is an internationally recognised expert on global energy security, geopolitics, critical (energy) infrastructure protection/CEIP, and (maritime) security policies in the Asia Pacific as well as Russia/Central Asia.
Previously, he was also a (Non-Resident) Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council of the United States (ACUS) in Washington D.C. between 2010 and 2015. From 2003 to 2007, he was a Co-Chair of the European Committee of the Council for Security Cooperation in Asia-Pacific (CSCAP-Europe). From 1996 to 2007, he was the head of the programmes “Security Policies in Asia-Pacific” and “International Energy Security” at the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) in Bonn and Berlin; a research fellow at the Federal Institute for East European and International Studies (BIOst) from 1991 to 1994 and a visiting research fellow at the Japan Institute for International Affairs (JIIA) in Tokyo from 1995 to 1996.
Dr Umbach has done consultancy work and testimonies for the German Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence Policies; European Commission and European Parliament, US-State and Energy Departments, US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (US-Congress), the Lithuanian Government, the House of Lords (British Parliament), the Polish Foreign and Economic Ministries, Hungarian Foreign Ministry, South Korean Foreign Ministry, NATO, OSCE, World Energy Council (WEC), Federation of the German Industries (BDI), energy and consultancy companies (incl. APCO and Roland Berger) and has advised international investors (via GLG). He is also the author of more than 500 publications in more than 30 countries worldwide, including being a contract author of the Geopolitical Intelligence Service (GIS) in Liechtenstein, since 2011.
Central Asia / Conflict and Stability / Country and Region Studies / East Asia and Asia Pacific / Energy Security / Europe / Global / International Political Economy / International Politics and Security / Maritime Security / Middle East and North Africa (MENA) / Non-Traditional Security / Regionalism and Multilateralism / South Asia / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Working Papers
Last updated on 05/08/2019