24 April 2015, 12:30 - 2:00, Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation, Brussels
The Silk Road evokes a golden age, when China was at the peak of its ancient glory and entertained rich trade exchanges with European countries through land and maritime routes. Today, the idea of a “Silk Road Economic Belt” stretching from China to Central Asia and Europe re-emerges as a strategic concept. This idea was first launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Bishkek, Kazakhstan in September 2013, and it was later endorsed by the Third Plenum of the 18th Committee. Since then a series of trade, energy, infrastructure and security agreements have been signed with countries along the New Silk Road.
Although at an early stage, this proposal raises as many economic as geopolitical questions: What is the economic and investment potential of this project? Will it put Central Asia on a sustainable growth path, or will it increase its reliance on the export of raw materials, leading to overdependence on China’s demand and investments? Can the development of transportation infrastructures create a cost-efficient alternative to the maritime route to reach European markets? Does it have the potential to intensify EU-China trade relations?
Does a growing Chinese presence in Central Asia risk causing friction with the Russian doctrine of reasserting influence in its “near abroad”? How is this initiative related to the Chinese military strategy? Could regional cooperation help contain the proliferation of Islamic radicalism in Central Asia and Xinjiang, and contribute to the stabilisation of these regions, even in light of US disengagement from Afghanistan? How would these reinforced links between China, Central Asia and Caucasus countries change EU-China relations?
A lunchtime debate with Dr Wang Yiwei (Professor, Renmin University) and Dr Alice Ekman (Research Fellow, IFRI and Associate Analyst, EUISS) - Speakers' bios
The debate was held in English and it was moderated by Pierre Defraigne, Executive Director, Madariaga - College of Europe Foundation.