This is an important report compilation of testimony at a 2018 hearing that assessed the status of China's Belt and Road initiative five years on, focusing on its economic, military, and geostrategic drivers and implications, as well as regional reactions and competing visions. The hearing also explored how China's Belt and Road initiative impacts U.S. economic and national security interests.
Panel I: Mercantilism with Chinese Characteristics: Creating Markets and Cultivating Influence * 1. Nadege Rolland, Senior Fellow for Political and Security Affairs, National Bureau of Asian Research * 2. Jonathan Hillman, Fellow and Director, Reconnecting Asia Project, Center for Strategic and International Studies * 3. Randal Phillips, Managing Partner, Mintz Group * Panel II: The Geostrategic and Military Drivers and Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative * 4. Ely Ratner, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, Council on Foreign Relations * 5. Joel Wuthnow, Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs, National Defense University.77 * 6. Daniel Kliman, Senior Fellow, Asia-Pacific Security Program, Center for a New American Security * Panel III: Regional Reactions and Competing Visions * 7. Andrew Small, Senior Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund of the United States * 8. Joshua Eisenman, Assistant Professor of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin * 9. Tobias Harris, Economy, Trade, and Business Fellow, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA
Chinese infrastructure projects have the potential to offload some of the excess industrial capacity currently weighing down China's economy. If executed well, they could provide crucial economic opportunities for developing countries around the world. They could also help burnish China's image as a responsible stakeholder and divert attention from more aggressive aspects of its foreign policy. On the other hand, poorly-run projects that prioritize Chinese gains at the expense of the host country's economy and citizenry would be no more than empty economic gestures, and could bring significant unpleasant reputational costs to Beijing. Perhaps more concerning, Chinese economic engagement could give way to dangerously lopsided bilateral relationships and create opportunities for Beijing to employ greater economic coercion against smaller partner countries.
Security risks abound as well. For example, although the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is arguably the most well-developed and promising component of the Belt and Road Initiative, Pakistan has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for Chinese workers and citizens. Despite—or perhaps because of—the enormity of the Belt and Road Initiative, some U.S. policymakers, businesses, and citizens have struggled to understand the breadth and depth of this effort. Today, we hope to shed light on the current status of the PRC's initiative and to consider whether and how it has the potential to reshape Eurasia and diminish our ability to positively influence events in Central, Southeast and South Asia.
China does not have a monopoly on plans to facilitate connectivity and trade across Eurasia and the Indian Ocean region. During our hearing today, we will examine regional reactions to China's Belt and Road Initiative as well as competing visions for regional connectivity, which have existed long before the Belt and Road Initiative. For example, the United States launched the New Silk Road Initiative in 2011. Today, other regional powers, such as India and Japan, are actively promoting their own initiatives to bolster economic growth and infrastructure development. These efforts present opportunities for the United States to work with its allies and partners to provide complementary or alternative options to China's Belt and Road.