The Belt and Road
China’s flagship initiative and its implications for the global economy
In the lead-up to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in autumn 2017, the inaugural Chatham House ‘Belt and Road’ conference will assess the current shape and form of China’s flagship initiative to strengthen physical, economic and financial connectivity between China and countries in Asia, as well as with Europe and Africa, in the context of current geopolitical and economic trends.
Announced in 2013, the ‘Belt and Road’ remains broadly defined as a reference framework to develop more specific ad hoc policy initiatives, with the over-arching ambition that it will help to ‘realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development’. It supports investment into a wide variety of infrastructure, including road, rail, port, energy and air traffic projects, and channels financial and non-financial resources into the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’, the ancient Silk Road that linked China to Europe, and into the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’, a network of maritime trade routes that connect South and Southeast Asia to Africa and Europe.
This conference will examine the evolving framework of the ‘Belt and Road’ including political and strategic considerations for its future, what it means for countries in its intended sphere, and the role of governments, international institutions, developers and investors in realizing its potential.
Discussions will address topics including:
- ‘Belt and Road’ in the context of China’s geo-economic priorities and global political developments;
- Regulatory, financial stability and governance issues for the ‘Belt and Road’;
- Developing large-scale, sustainable infrastructure projects, mobilizing investment and enabling technology transfers;
- Innovation in project finance in terms of instruments, currencies and markets.
The Chatham House Rule
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.
Monday 16 October
Session One | The Belt and Road: building new economic, trade and financial connections
Since the launch of the ‘Belt and Road’ in 2013, China’s political and economic ambitions for developing the initiative have only been broadly defined. In parallel with the official aim that it will support sustainable development, motivations include the promotion of outward investment by Chinese firms and increasing trade with other emerging ‘Silk Road’ economies to providing an outlet for excess industrial and investment capacity for Chinese firms and financial institutions. This session will focus on the potential for disruption of existing trade and financial relations and how the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative can create new economic, business and geopolitical dynamics in the region.
Session Two | Infrastructure investment and China’s changing role in development finance
There is currently a gap of roughly $1 trillion from present funding levels to meet the infrastructure funding needs of countries in the intended sphere of the ‘Belt and Road’. This is despite engagement from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Central and East Asia remain among the most significant regions constituting this gap. China has taken significant steps to address this, through the chartering of two development banks, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank (NDB), which also have complementary goals to the ‘Belt and Road’.
- The roles of multilateral and bilateral development finance: how to promote complementarity and minimize rivalry among development banks
- The role of markets – including international financial centres like London - in financing large-scale infrastructure projects
- Who needs to borrow and who needs to lend: developing a corporate bond market in the region
- The role of green finance and green bonds in leveraging additional finance
Session Three | International engagement: perceptions, realities, risks, and project challenges
This session will assess how the ‘Belt and Road’ is currently perceived and engaged with by Western governments and institutions. It will also examine what steps are being considered by these actors that might facilitate or impede international cooperation with China on project development.
- How does the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative fit into Europe’s strategic and economic interests?
- In what ways will the EU’s rules-based system – on issues including environment sustainability and project transparency – affect prospects for engagement with China on ’Belt and Road’ projects?
- How have European governments engaged with ‘Belt and Road’ projects thus far? What is the extent of divergence in the degrees of interest demonstrated by EU member states in the initiative?
- Post-Brexit, how will the UK government’s strategy for economic engagement with China affect investment into ‘Belt and Road’ projects?
- Where does the ‘Belt and Road’ fit in terms of a US-China economic relationship?
Session Four | Engaging business: scaling up sustainable investment
China has expressed an interest in developing the ‘Belt and Road’ as a framework for international investment, where Western corporates and investors can partner with Chinese institutions to deliver projects. Given the large size of the initiative, China will need significant international funding commitments to successfully develop these projects. This session will examine what steps have already been taken in that direction, how such partnerships could be structured, and what obstacles will have to be overcome.
- What mechanisms are in place, or are needed, to enable the ‘Belt and Road’ to address problems commonly encountered in large-scale infrastructure projects, including political and environmental risks?
- How can cooperation between Western and Chinese firms on ‘Belt and Road’ projects contribute towards the development of international financial accounting and reporting standards, including for sustainable infrastructure and green finance?
- How can the relationship between private investors, multilateral development banks, and the Chinese government be managed to maximize the amount of financing available? How can cooperation between these actors help increase the number of bankable, and avoid crowding out of private financing?
- How will the levels of financing required for ‘Belt and Road’ ventures affect demand for the renminbi in international financial centres?
17:30 End of conference and reception hosted by Chatham House
© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2017
Nonresident Fellow, Lowy Institute for International Policy
Fellow and Director of the Reconnecting Asia Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources, Chatham House
Dr Huw McKay
Vice President, Market Analysis & Economics, BHP
Asia Editor, The Banker
Chief Economist and Director General, Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department, Asian Development Bank
Senior Consulting Fellow, Asia Programme, Chatham House
Dr Frans-Paul van der Putten
Senior Research Fellow, Clingendael
Pricing and booking information
Ways to book:
- Online: Click here to complete the online registration form
- Phone: Call Louisa Troughton on +44 (0)20 7957 5727
- Email / Post: Download a PDF registration form, complete and return to Charlotte Laycock via email or post: Chatham House, 10 St. James’s Square, London, SW1Y 4LE
|Partners and major corporate members|
|Standard corporate members|
|NGOs and academics||£460|
|NGOs and academics||£510|
Your delegate pass includes:
- Conference attendance
- Lunch and refreshments
Travel and accommodation are not included. View a list of recommended hotels here.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact
Kamil Hussain on +44 (0) 20 7314 2783
If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact
Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755
10 St James's Square
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5710
If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764
The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.
Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.
Please note all rates are subject to availability.
13 Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817
Classic Double without breakfast: £195 +VAT
The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1U 6JF
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125
Classic Room without breakfast: £205 +VAT
The Stafford London
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ
Tel: 020 7493 0111
Fax: 020 7493 7121
Classic Queen without breakfast: £247 +VAT
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