Today we held a seminar titled “Making Sense of China’s Belt and Road Initiative – What’s at Stake for Sweden and Europe?” marking the establishment of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory, a research network created to tackle questions arising in relation to BRI and China’s growing global footprint for which I am the head coordinator.
You can listen to the full seminar here:
FULL TEXT HERE
Over the last year, scholars, pundits, and policymakers interested in China have rhetorically asked whether US President Donald Trump will make President Xi Jinping’s China “great again.” There is now mounting evidence that the answer to that question is “yes.” Since his inauguration, there are a number of ways in which Trump has contributed to China’s rise, and Xi Jinping’s tightening grip on power.
To begin with as we, and others have suggested elsewhere, Trump is making China great again by withdrawing from global responsibilities so that space is left for Xi’s China to step into. Trump’s ‘America First’ policy has involved announcements of withdrawal from international responsibilities and agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), UNESCO, the Paris Agreement on climate change, and UN talks on migration. He has threatened to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, a free-trade agreement with South Korea, and NAFTA.
At the same time, Xi’s China has pursued the opposite policy, investing in exactly the kinds of overseas initiatives that built America’s global influence, including foreign aid and investment, overseas security, and education. The ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ – China’s massive connectivity project and Xi’s flagship foreign policy – has fortuitously emerged in this newly opened space.
“Will Trump make China great again? The belt and road initiative and international order” – new article in Chatham House’s International Affairs with Astrid H. M. Nordin) – full text on https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iix242
On December 7-8, 2017 I am organising a conference on “The power of narratives in East Asian International Relations” together with Prof. Linus Hagström and Assoc. Prof. Karl Gustafsson. This is part of the Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
During the two days, leading researchers from around the world gather to focus on a variety of themes such as for example Okinawa-Taiwan narratives and counter-narratives, the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Islands dispute through narratives, regional narratives and expectations on China as a leading power in Southeast Asia, memes, narratives, and an emergent US-China security dilemma and more. The forum gathers international guests and prominent researchers such as Alice Ba, Alastair Iain Johnston, Peter Gries, LHM Ling, Mari Nakamura, Kosuke Shimizu, Hidekazu Sakai and others.
New paper on Sweden and the Belt and Road Initiative just out: Sweden’s approach to China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Still a glass half-empty (UI Paper, No.1 2017 with Elin Rappe).
In 2013 China’s President Xi Jinping launched the “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative, later renamed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which involves China undertaking to make infrastructure investments worth billions of US dollars in the countries along the old Silk Road connecting China with Europe. While commonly seen as an infrastructure initiative aimed at strengthening the Chinese economy, it is also a political project with far-reaching strategic aims.
This UI Brief outlines how China has approached the BRI with Sweden, how Sweden has responded and the perceptions of major Swedish stakeholders. It finds that Swedish officials are often highly cautious, maintaining a wait-and see policy. While also cautious, members of the business community are cautiously optimistic and have been more actively following BRIrelated developments, seeking out avenues for potential business. The actual impact of BRI in Sweden, however, is so far very limited.
The Brief concludes that Sweden’s approach to BRI has been too reactive and too passive. It argues that both the government and the business community need to engage more actively with the BRI in order to maximize its possible benefits. To this end, a national strategy is needed that includes the government and the business sector. Better coordination is also needed between government agencies and to link existing intra-governmental cooperation with the business community. Their importance cannot be overemphasized as the BRI is a political project, not an idealistic free-market endeavour.
Today’s contribution sharing knowledge on the Belt and Road initiative – https://insights.nordea.com/b-r-bridging-divide-china-nordics .
You might also want to read my original article on the Swedish approach to the BRI/OBOR – http://fhs.diva-portal.org/…/g…/diva2:1067710/FULLTEXT01.pdf .
New project on “The Beijing-Washington Power Shift in the South China Sea after the ruling of the International Court of Arbitration“ in collaboration with The Association of Foreign Relations, Taipei, Taiwan.
The project looks to track political, military and diplomatic developments in the South China Sea and compare the impacts of the afore-mentioned in addition to those of other significant cases. The project also seeks to examine the role and use of soft power and its projection in the South China Sea. It is hoped that different viewpoints and perspectives could be shared, exchanged and discussed between the two sides.
Besides research on the topic, seminars and workshops will be held in Taiwan and in Sweden. The project also includes exchange, with a Vincent Siew Fellow being based at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs during spring 2017 to conduct research within the scope of this project.
The Association of Foreign Relations, Taipei, Taiwan
The Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, Sweden
Dr. Mikael Weissmann (principal investigator, Sweden)
Assoc. Prof. Kwei-Bo Huang, AFR Secretary-General (principal investigator, Taiwan)
Dr. Emma Björnehed (project manager)
For more information see the project page.
A special issue on “China’s Maritime Embroilments” that I have co-edited has just been published in Asian Survey. This issue originates in a conference I orgainsed on “Collaboration at Sea”, kindly funded by a grant from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond.
I have co-written the introduction with Prof. Lowell Dittmer (“China’s Maritime Embroilments” [FULL TEXT]) and an article titled “The South China Sea: Still No War on the Horizon” [FULL TEXT]. In my article I am using a conflict transformation framework to demonstrate that in fact positive transformations have taken place in the South China Sea between 1991 and 2007. I am arguing that even though these transformations have been weakened in recent years, particularly regarding actor behaviour, a major armed conflict is still highly unlikely.
The full table of content is as follows (PDF):
In a new article I am arguing that it is vital to understand what is guiding Chinese foreign policy, why this is so, and not least what kind of power China is and will be in the future. The article analyses the vital elements and thinking that guides Chinese foreign policy, its priorities and decision making process, concluding that China under Xi Jinping will not be a status que power accepting the world as it is, but nor are we to expect China to become a revisionist power aiming to remodel the global order. Instead, China is what can best be described as a responsible reformer “striving for achievements”.
“Chinese Foreign Policy in a Global Perspective: A Responsible Reformer “Striving For Achievement”“, Journal of China and International Relations, 3(1), 2015: 151-166.