The speakers will challenge this position, arguing that the available evidence suggests that: economic factors are the primary driver of China’s BRI; China’s development financing system is too fragmented and poorly coordinated to pursue detailed strategic objectives; and developing-country governments and their associated political and economic interests co-determine the nature of BRI projects on their territory. They will highlight the cases of Sri Lanka and Malaysia, arguing that their most controversial BRI projects have been shaped by domestic agendas and that these countries’ debt problems have arisen mainly from the misconduct of local elites and Western-dominated financial markets.

This event will launch the publication Debunking the Myth of ‘Debt-trap Diplomacy’: How Recipient Countries Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative.


Lee Jones, Reader in International Politics, Queen Mary University of London
Shahar Hameiri, Associate Professor of International Politics, School of Political Science and International Studies University of Queensland
Chair: Champa Patel, Director, Asia-Pacific Programme, Chatham House