Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order – Implications for “Global Britain”
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Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order – Implications for “Global Britain”
4th December 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
China’s Belt and Road strategy is acknowledged to be the most ambitious geopolitical initiative of the age. Covering almost seventy countries by land and sea, it will affect every element of global society, from shipping to agriculture, digital economy to tourism, politics to culture. Most importantly, it symbolises a new phase in China’s ambitions as a superpower: to remake the world economy and crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalisation.
The Henry Jackson Society is pleased to invite you to join the panel discussion in which Bruno Maçães will trace this expansive initiative’s history, highlighting its achievements to date, and its staggering complexity, while Dr. John Hemmings and James Rogers will ask what China’s ambitions mean for “Global Britain” in the twenty-first century.
Bruno Maçães – is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Senior Advisor at Flint Global and a Senior Fellow at Renmin University in the People’s Republic of China. Formerly Portugal’s Minister for Europe (2013-2015), he has been a regular commentator for CNN, the BBC and Al Jazeera, and has written for the Financial Times, The Guardian and Foreign Affairs. His last book was The Dawn of Eurasia: On the Trail of the New World Order.
Dr John Hemmings – is Director of Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society and an Adjunct Fellow at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. Prior to his doctoral studies, he was a visiting fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS and a research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute in Whitehall, working on Northeast Asia security and defence policies. He has written on foreign and security policy in Northeast Asia for nearly 10 years and had research positions at the Royal United Services Institute and the Asia Foundation. He contributes political analysis to various media, including the BBC, the Telegraph, Fox News, CNN, the Mainichi Shimbun, the Diplomat, and the National Interest; and is a regular on Monocle 24 Radio.
James Rogers – is Director of the ‘Global Britain’ Programme at the Henry Jackson Society, of which he is a founding member. Formerly, he held a number of positions at the Baltic Defence College in Estonia and has worked at the European Union Institute for Security Studies in Paris.
On the 4th December, the Henry Jackson Society was delighted to host Bruno Maçães for our latest event, “Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order – Implications for ‘Global Britain’”. Maçães is a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, a Senior Advisor at Flint Global and a Senior Fellow at Renmin University in the People’s Republic of China. Formerly Portugal’s Minister for Europe (2013-2015) Maçães is also a regular political commentator. The panel was joined by Dr John Hemmings, the Director of the Asia Studies Centre at the Henry Jackson Society. Chairing the event was James Rogers, a co-founder of the Henry Jackson Society and Director of its Global Britain Programme.
Maçães began his talk on the topic of ‘Global Britain’ in the age of a rising China. He drew attention to the parallel occurrences of Britain’s need to rely on the Asian giants for future economic growth and the rise of China. Britain’s global power, he suggested, is intimately linked to the success of Brexit which can only be achieved by negotiating Free Trade Deals with the world’s strongest economies in order to replace the Single Market.
Maçães went on to address China’s Belt and Road initiative and described the way in which it is intended to create a Chinese World Order. Emerging from its century of perceived humiliation, China is trying to create a uni-polar international order in both a political and economic sense. The Belt and Road initiative achieves this by allowing China to control both supply and value chains. Bruno gave the example of China’s recent victory in winning a tender to construct large shipping containers. Although the Chinese firm appeared less competitive than its South Korean Rival, China was able to offer the use of their infrastructure, particularly sea ports to make themselves more competitive.
Furthermore, this belt and road initiative allows China to mold a sino-centric world order through the increases pressure it can place on individual countries. In an age of globalization in which goods and services face global competition, slight changes in prices can have exponentially large effects upon a goods profit and therefore the host counties economy. By controlling value and supply chains, China can target the economies of specific countries by disrupting their global trade with much of it will passing through China’s new spheres of influence. Countries not falling in line with Beijing’s policies may find their goods facing increased taxes, delays and extra regulation making them less competitive. Thus, the belt and road initiative functions as a method for China to increase its regional pressure in order to fashion a new, China dominated world order.
This point was developed by Dr John Hemmings who stated that it was the first time in over 600 years that a non-Western state was shaping the global order. John stated that there was an element of fear to this owing the lack of accountability within the Chinese system. That being a system where a small, unelected party, has control of an enormous swathe of territory and cannot be influenced by elections or demonstrations. The consequences of which is a potential disintegration of the rules based order system, or it’s the systems maintainance with a completely different set of rules. John gave the example of the controversy surrounding large American loans given to developing countries following WW2 which was met with considerable protests and internal debate inside America. Such debate evidently not occurring inside China. Indeed, with China’s global aspirations, the accountability of the Chinese system goes further than China’s borders and touches us in our own nations.
Finally, John stated that it was becoming increasingly likely that the West is faced with two choices vis-à-vis China. Firstly, China becoming more Westernised which is looking increasingly unlikely. Secondly and more plausibly, the likelihood that we would enter a form of new Cold War with China. John concluded by raising the essential point of how a ‘Global Britain’ would continue to maintain its own liberal values faced with this scenario.
Finally, James Rogers appeared more skeptical of the rise of China, drawing a fascinating link between the actions of pre-WW1 Germany and Russia and China’s Belt and Road Initiative. At the time, it was feared that both Germany and Russia would replace Britain’s global influence and undermine its empire through their vast construction of railway networks. A prediction which evidently did not come to pass. By doing so, James raised the possibility that China’s project will simply not have the intended consequences which Western analysts predict.
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