Session one: September 26, 4:00-5:30, M-RCBG Conference Room (B-503)

Introduction: in 2013, China launched an ambitious plan, the “Belt and Road initiative” which is aiming at building or rebuilding infrastructures across the Eurasian continent. This includes an ambitious network of transportation, energy, telecommunication and energy infrastructures linking over sixty countries in Asia, Eurasia and as far as Africa. According to the Chinese narrative, this is an unprecedented plan aiming at relaunching a “new silk road” and create a new economic platform. The Belt and Road plan highlights that the scope of the initiative will extend well beyond infrastructure construction. The program will also include efforts to promote greater financial integration and use of the Renminbi by foreign countries, create an “Information Silk Road” linking regional information and communications technology networks, and lower barriers to cross-border trade and investment in the region, among other initiatives. New regional institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Silk Road Fund (NSRF), are also designed in part to complement and support the Belt and Road’s development.

Key-questions: How is China’s global economic rise, and this initiative in particular, being perceived in some of the targeted countries?  Besides the economic drive, what are the political consequences of China’s new offensive in Eurasia?

Methodology: Drawing cautiously from recent data (as the field is still nascent), this study group will look at a few cases of existing Chinese investment projects in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It will examine China’s geoeconomic intentions, and whatever strategic implications that may have on the region. It will also look at the possible consequences of these projects on China’s image in two groups of countries:

  •  Countries considered members of the “liberal international order” (European Union members in particular).
  • Countries in demand for economic and financial assistance that cannot be met by existing international institutions (World Bank, IMF, EBRD) therefore more amenable to China’s proposed investments (some might be EU members as well). 

In the end, the group will touch upon long-term consequences from what could become a major geoeconomic shift in Eurasia.

Philippe Le Corre headshotPhilippe Le Corre has a joint appointment as a Research Fellow with the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. From 2014 to 2017, he was a Visiting Fellow in the Foreign Policy Program at The Brookings Institution in Washington DC, specializing on China-Europe relations and China’s global rise. His career spans government, academia, media and business. He was Special Assistant for international affairs to the French defense minister, and also served as a Senior Policy Adviser on Asia within the Ministry of defense’s directorate for international relations and strategy. In the private sector, Mr. Le Corre worked as a partner with Publicis Consultants in Paris and Shanghai, where he ran a team of advisers to the Shanghai World Expo 2010 Organizing Committee. He previously worked in Asia as a foreign correspondent for nine years, and has published extensively on the region in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, The South China Morning Post, The Straits Times, Politico, Le Monde, Les Echos and Foreign Affairs among others. He is the author or co-author of several books including China’s Offensive in Europe (Brookings Institution Press, 2016), Quand la Chine va au marché (Maxima, 1999) and Après Hong Kong (Autrement, 1997). He published several papers on China including China’s rise: What about a transatlantic dialog? (Asia-Europe Journal, April 2017, co-authored with Jonathan Pollack) and China Abroad: The Long March to Europe (China Economic Quarterly, June 2016).  Le Corre received his MA in political science from the Sorbonne in Paris and was a Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard and a Sachs Scholar in 2003-2004. Mr. Le Corre will look at the perceptions of China’s geoeconomic and geopolitical expansion, especially in Europe and Central Asia. His faculty sponsor is Professor Anthony Saich. Email: