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Add to Calendar 18/09/2017 10:00 18/09/2017 17:30 Africa/Casablanca China’s Belt and Road – A New Corridor for the Expansion of Chinese Influence? /Paris, France/ In 2013, Xi Jinping launched the one belt one road initiative (OBOR) with the aim of connecting major Eurasian economies through infrastructure, trade and investment. This massive project, which will welcome 1 trillion USD in investments and cover 65 countries while including 4.4 billion people, is composed of two main strategic axes, namely the land based silk-ro... L’Institut français des relations internationales (Ifri), Paris, France OCP Policy Center contact@ocppc.ma false DD/MM/YYYY
Monday, September 18, 2017 - 10:00 to 17:30

China’s Belt and Road – A New Corridor for the Expansion of Chinese Influence?

Paris, France

In 2013, Xi Jinping launched the one belt one road initiative (OBOR) with the aim of connecting major Eurasian economies through infrastructure, trade and investment. This massive project, which will welcome 1 trillion USD in investments and cover 65 countries while including 4.4 billion people, is composed of two main strategic axes, namely the land based silk-road economic belt and the oceangoing Maritime Silk road. With regards to the former, a network of roads and rail routes for oil and natural gas pipelines as well as other infrastructure projects will stretch from China through Central Asia and will ultimately reach as far as Moscow, Rotterdam and Venice. The other goal of the land routes is also to connect other parts of the region through belt corridors, that will build bridges through China, Mongolia and Russia, and Bangladesh, China India and Myanmar, to name a few. As for the maritime road, a network of planned ports and other types of coastal infrastructure projects will extend from South East Asia to East Africa, to parts of the Northern Mediterranean Sea. The OBOR project will lay the foundation for one of the greatest multilateral endeavors that the world has ever witnessed.

This large scale project launched by China, which would ultimately include 40% of the global GDP, is gaining a great amount of attention given its very far reach and the various social, economic and political implications it may have on national, regional, and global levels. This initiative may play the role of enhancing coordination of economic development policies and harmonize the technical standards for infrastructure on the one hand and may contribute to the removal of investment and trade barriers, the establishment of free trade areas, and financial cooperation on the other. The implications may also go way beyond the expected cooperation, and may lead to cultural and academic exchanges to further enhance relationships between countries of the corridor.

The concept, scope and nature of the initiative are still not set in stone, as the shape of OBOR is likely to evolve over time, better adapting to the challenges of multilateralization (i.e governance) that may result from including countries that greatly vary in shape, size, political systems, levels of development and others. Though many challenges may arise, the OBOR initiative could play a role in stimulating Asian and global economic growth by providing a more sustainable model that will focus on building the right infrastructure for long term developments. OBOR may also promote private investments around the infrastructure needed to concretize the road, rail routes, and maritime network. Through this networks, a boost in trade flows and infrastructure development may help countries with underdeveloped infrastructure and low investment rates.

Will this initiative prove to be successful? What are the risks and challenges linked to OBOR’s multilateralization? How will OBOR benefit China itself, and how is this perceived by the international community? Is OBOR a way for China to extend its influence and redefine globalization? To answer these questions and further discuss OBOR, the French Institute for International Relations (Ifri) and OCP Policy Center are organizing a joint event composed of five panels. The morning sessions will tackle the topic conceptually while discussing how China positions itself in this initiative. The afternoon sessions will discuss specific case studies based on strategic regions for China, while keeping the approaches both geopolitical and geoeconomic. The breakdown of sessions will be as follows:

Panel I: OBOR and the Energy Sector: Taking stock

Panel II: Explaining India’s perception of the Belt and Road Initiative

Panel III: Regional Implications: South East Asia

Panel IV: China’s New Silk Roads: Russia’s interests and motivations

Panel V: Is the OBOR initiative spreading across Africa

Agenda 

 

10:00 – 10:15

WELCOME REMARKS 

Thomas Gomart, Director, Ifri
Karim El Aynaoui,Managing Director, OCP Policy Center

10:15 – 11:30

PANEL I: OBOR AND THE ENERGY SECTOR: TAKING STOCK

More than three years have already passed since China’s Belt and Road was launched by President Xi Jinping. When he first mentioned the idea in an autumn 2013 speech in Kazakhstan, questions quickly emerged on the meaning of this general concept, which soon became widely promoted through a large-scale and well-coordinated public diplomacy strategy both in and outside China. But is it just about communication? How is China promoting and implementing the Belt and road in concrete terms in the energy sector?

Alice Ekman, Head of China Research, Center for Asian Studies, Ifri
SHI Yan, Assistant Research Fellow, Department of European Studies, CIIS (TBC)
John Seaman, Research Fellow, Center for Asian Studies, Ifri
El Mostapha Rezrazi, Professor, University Mohamed V of Rabat (TBC)

11:30 – 11:45

Coffee Break

11:45 – 13:00

PANEL II: EXPLAINING INDIA’S UNEASINESS WITH THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

In May 2017, China hosted the high profile Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. While representatives from about 160 States reportedly attended the forum, one country was conspicuously absent: India. Various factors account for India’s opposition to BRI. China stated that its “doors will always remain open”. But it remains to be seen whether New Delhi may be amenable to changing its position, especially as its priority so far has been to push its own connectivity initiatives in the Indian Ocean Region.

Isabelle Saint-Mézard, Associate Fellow, Center for Asian Studies, Ifri
Samir Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi (TBC)
Ashok Malik, Head of Neighborhood Regional Studies Initiative, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi (TBC)

Chair: TBD

13:00 – 14:00

LUNCH BREAK

14:00 – 15:00

PANEL III: REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS: SOUTH EAST ASIA

Sophie Boisseau du Rocheau, Associate Fellow, Center for Asian Studies, Ifri (TBC)
Xin Wang, Researcher in Chines Policies, IDDRI, Sciences Po (TBC)

Chair: TBD

15:00 – 16:00

PANEL IV: CHINA’S NEW SILK ROADS: RUSSIA’S INTERESTS AND MOTIVATIONS

After first reactions of mistrust, Russia seems to perceive the Chinese Silk Road initiative as an economic and geopolitical opportunity. In the context of confrontation with the West, the last dimension has gained a particular importance. After launching the idea of the coordination between the Silk Road initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union in May 2015, Russia is now promoting the concept of “Greater Eurasia”. What kind of real benefits is Russia expecting from these new Eurasian projects?

Speakers
Tatiana Kastouéva-Jean, Director, Russia/NIS Center, Ifri
Julien Vercueil, Economist, INALCO (TBC)

Chair:
Thomas Gomart, Director, Ifri

16:00 – 16:45

Coffee Break

16:15 – 17:15

PANEL V: IS THE OBOR INITIATIVE SPREADING ACROSS AFRICA?

Africa appears of secondary importance for China’s OBOR project, but it is nevertheless causing a stir across the continent. An increasing number of official declarations across Africa highlight the project’s attractiveness, but also the risks of dependence and regional competition to join the OBOR wave have already begun. What do these reactions reveal about African and Chinese ambitions and expectations?

Clélie Nallet, Research Fellow, Sub-Saharan Africa Program, Ifri
Alexander Demissie, Founding Director, China Africa Advisory
Fathallah Oualalou, Senior Fellow, OCP Policy Center (TBC)

Chair: Karim El Aynaoui, Managing Director, OCP Policy Center

17:15 – 17:30

CLOSING REMARKS

END OF CONFERENCE

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