Amb. Ashok Kantha,
Lt. Gen. S.L. Narasimhan,
Prof. Srikanth Kondapalli,
Prof. Sreeram Chaulia,
And all present here,
Thank you for joining us today for the Book Discussion on China’s BRI in Different Regions of the World: Cooperation, Contradictions and Concerns. This book is an in-house ICWA study of BRI from various dimensions. Our entire research faculty has contributed papers to this study.
2. BRI projects provide valuable insights, in the context of, understanding China’s behaviour, its expanding global footprint and the methodology of the functioning of the Chinese state. The Council undertook this book with these objectives and to assess the progress of BRI as it enters its 10th year.
3. The Book evaluates the BRI initiative in terms of its conception, its implementation as well as its implications from the perspective of individual countries and regions across the world. It suggests that (a) BRI is a project undertaken by China for its strategic interest and several partner countries are increasingly understanding this. By and large, participating countries are now adopting a more ‘cautious’ approach towards BRI related projects. (b) As it enters the second decade, China itself is re-assessing BRI and is considering renegotiation, downsizing and even cancelation of projects by recipient countries in some regions/continents especially South Asia, Southeast Asia and Africa. (c) The issue of ‘debt trap’ or ‘debt fear’ has emerged as a major concern in many countries along the BRI network; (d) Each BRI project is now being negotiated more rigorously between China and the participating countries than was the case earlier. However, it is to be recognised that the power dynamics of different regions have affected prospects of the BRI in different ways;
4. In September 2021, China announced its Global Development Initiative and followed it up with its Global Security initiative announcement in April 2022. The Global Development Initiative in particular has been seen as an “expansion of BRI” or “a booster dose to BRI”. Therefore, it will be worthwhile to discuss, the two new “global” initiatives in the context of BRI.
5. From India’s perspective, it is important to understand BRI - a major initiative of our largest neighbour in terms of the opportunities and challenges it poses in the economic and geopolitical domain. India’s position on China’s BRI has been clear and consistent. Connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms and must respect sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations and follow principles of openness, transparency and financial responsibility. BRI projects lack considerably in these aspects.
6. We feel our study will be useful not only for China studies scholars but also for scholars of other geographical areas with an interest in China’s activities in these regions as also for practitioners.
7. We are having these discussions just ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which begins on 16 October 2022 – a meeting that will be watched very closely.
8. I look forward to our discussions. Thank You.