Since Xi Jinping’s unveiling, in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has drawn remarkable global attention, raising polarized judgements about China’s ambitions. A number of countries and institutions enthusiastically considered the BRI as a valuable infrastructural and economic contribution that would enhance connectivity among Eurasian countries; on the other hand, critics viewed the BRI as part of Beijing’s effort to gain global influence, especially within its neighborhood. Chinese policymakers have considered Southeast Asia as a critical region for the success of the BRI, mainly because of the geographical proximity as well as the strong economic ties with both individual states and the ASEAN. In Southeast Asian states’ view, however, the BRI still presents a mixed picture of opportunities and challenges. Despite the clear appeal the BRI has to both democratic and authoritarian leaders in the region, especially at a time of economic uncertainty—fueled by unhelpful actions by the United States (withdrawal from the TPP and the trade war against Beijing)—concerns remain. Potential overdependence on China, the BRI’s financial sustainability and negative popular perceptions about Beijing within certain Southeast Asian countries, all contribute to nurture caution in the region. The paper aims at showing how the implementation of the BRI will likely enhance China’s influence in Southeast Asia. Against this backdrop, whereas the establishment of a renovated Sinocentric system is far from certain, this study sheds light on the challenges and opportunities the BRI is determining upon Southeast Asian countries and their relationship with Beijing.

China and the BRI: Challenges and Opportunities for Southeast Asia

Albana, Alessandro;Fiori, Antonio
2021

Abstract

Since Xi Jinping’s unveiling, in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has drawn remarkable global attention, raising polarized judgements about China’s ambitions. A number of countries and institutions enthusiastically considered the BRI as a valuable infrastructural and economic contribution that would enhance connectivity among Eurasian countries; on the other hand, critics viewed the BRI as part of Beijing’s effort to gain global influence, especially within its neighborhood. Chinese policymakers have considered Southeast Asia as a critical region for the success of the BRI, mainly because of the geographical proximity as well as the strong economic ties with both individual states and the ASEAN. In Southeast Asian states’ view, however, the BRI still presents a mixed picture of opportunities and challenges. Despite the clear appeal the BRI has to both democratic and authoritarian leaders in the region, especially at a time of economic uncertainty—fueled by unhelpful actions by the United States (withdrawal from the TPP and the trade war against Beijing)—concerns remain. Potential overdependence on China, the BRI’s financial sustainability and negative popular perceptions about Beijing within certain Southeast Asian countries, all contribute to nurture caution in the region. The paper aims at showing how the implementation of the BRI will likely enhance China’s influence in Southeast Asia. Against this backdrop, whereas the establishment of a renovated Sinocentric system is far from certain, this study sheds light on the challenges and opportunities the BRI is determining upon Southeast Asian countries and their relationship with Beijing.
Rebalancing Asia. The Belt and Road Initiative and Indo-Pacific Strategy
149
159
Albana, Alessandro; Fiori, Antonio
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11585/834257
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