On March 29-30, Dr. Lora Saalman moderated the workshop “The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road: Considering Security Implications,” in collaboration with Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
On the event, Dr. Saalman observed, “In spite of assertions as to the purely economic origins of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), interactions with Chinese experts reveal that there is a growing domestic recognition of its longer-term geopolitical and even security implications. Events in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean have become invariably entangled in discussions on the BRI’s maritime channels. Combined with the resurgence of the term ‘Indo-Pacific’ within the U.S. White House and the grouping of a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue consisting of India, Japan, Australia, and the United States, Chinese debates reveal concerns that these powers seek to derail the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Given these misgivings and the centrality of the BRI in China’s longer-term strategy, there has been a steady reduction in the number of channels for foreign entities to meaningfully interact with Chinese experts and officials on the means to mitigate risks and miscalculations along the BRI. This is one of the many reasons that this event was unique and timely.”