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.
Ms. Sophie Chao has joined the project on “Beijing-Washington Power Shift in the South China Sea” for three month as a Vincent Siew Fellow. After her stay in Sweden Ms. Chao will pursue her M.A. at Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in fall 2017.
For more information see: https://www.ui.se/english/about/staff/sophie-chao/
Ms. Wrenn Yennie Lindgren (web) has joined our Power Shift in East Asia program. Yennie Lindgren specializes in international relations of the Asia Pacific and Japanese foreign and security policy. Besides being a PhD candidate at our program, she is also a Research Fellow at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and a Visiting Fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs (SIIA).