“BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE: OPPORTUNITIES AND IMPLICATIONS FOR NEPAL AND THE REGION”
Master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD)
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Date: 12th September, 2018
Venue: Hotel Himalaya, Lalitpur
Initiated by the Chinese President Xi Jinping back in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious development project aimed to connect three continents—Europe, Asia and Africa. The primary objective of the China-backed project is to enhance economic connectivity by linking more than 60 percent of the world population, almost 40 percent of global GDP and a vast amount of natural resources. The project envisions a network of land and sea trade routes that require a significant infrastructure development. Already more than 70 countries have become a party to the BRI and the Chinese government has pledged more than USD 1 trillion in infrastructure financing for the project. The BRI mainly covers five areas for improved collaboration between China and the countries party to the initiative: Policy Coordination, Financial Integration, Connectivity, Unimpeded Trade, and People-to-People Relations.
At a time when Asia’s infrastructure gap threatens growth in the region, Nepal along with other South and South East Asian countries look at the BRI as an opportunity to develop infrastructure and attain economic development. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project of the BRI, promises to inject some USD 60 billion of Chinese investment into Pakistan to strengthen its economy through construction of transportation networks, energy projects and Special Economic Zones. Afghanistan will also benefit from the CPEC in the coming days. Sri Lanka and the Maldives have welcomed many projects under the BRI as well. Similarly, Kunming in China is being connected to South East Asia through three main railway routes—the Central Route, connecting Kunming to Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore; the Eastern Route, connecting Kunming to Vietnam; and the Western Route connecting Kunming to Myanmar.With all these new projects emerging around the region, Nepal is keen to be a part of the initiative. However, the infrastructure financing offered by the Chinese government for the BRI projects have made countries cautious of debt implications. Critics argue that the project gives China too much leverage over the countries involved, especially the smaller and weaker ones.
With this directive in mind, Master’s in International Relations and Diplomacy (MIRD) program, Tribhuvan University proposes to organize an International Conference on “Belt and Road Initiative: Opportunities and Implications for Nepal and the Region” to closely examine the opportunities, challenges and implications of BRI to Nepal and other countries of the region, especially India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. the conference seeks to address pertinent issues related to the BRI. Scholars and experts from Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand have been invited to the conference to share their knowledge and experience of their respective countries in regard to the BRI.
To look at the multifaceted aspects of BRI, its implications and challenges in South Asia and South East Asia, the conference is anticipated to raise some of these pertinent questions.