This week I have been making a research visit to Beijing, China to have meeting with a number of Chinese experts at different universities and institutes to learn more about the Belt and Road Initiative and China’s foreign policy in the region and the world.
This week I will be conducting a visit to Singapore to work on a Special Issue on “Power, Narratives, and the role of third parties: Understanding Power (Shift) in East Asia” for Asian Perspective with my RSIS co-guest editor Dr Li Mingjiang. This issue is part of Prof. Linus Hagström and my Power Shift in East Asia project funded by the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation.
I will also be visiting, among others, the East Asia Institute at National University of Singapore and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).
Now the official site of the Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory has been launched: https://www.ui.se/english/research/asia/SBRO
The Stockholm Belt and Road Observatory is an independent research network dedicated to questions arising in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s growing global footprint.
Gathering expertise from several leading Swedish institutions, the observatory serves as a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing for actors in academia, government, civil society and the business sector.
The observatory was officially launched at a seminar on 4 June, 2018. The event included discussions about how the BRI is impacting Sweden and Europe, how the BRI relates to Chinese global leadership, and how to handle challenges emerging from the BRI.
Today I am co-authoring an op-ed in SvD Debatt , ”Sverige bör få EU att ställa tydliga krav på Kina”, on how Sweden ought to handle China’s global ambitions. We are arguing that there is a need for a common ground among Swedish actors and to develop a shared position within the European Union and not least to set clear requirements. This is of course not easy, but as China’s ambitions will remain a fact of life there is a need to adapt.
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
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.