Dr. Lora Saalman, vice president of EWI’s Asia-Pacific program, joined experts from over 30 countries in South Asia and Horn of Africa to moderate a workshop on the security implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Yangon, Myanmar.
The February 22-23 regional workshop was organized by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), and co-hosted by the Myanmar Institute of Strategic and International Studies (MISIS).
About the workshop series, Dr. Saalman noted, "The BRI is one of the most amorphous and yet, potentially, transformative concepts to emerge from China. It offers the tangibility that many previous Chinese initiatives have lacked, repackaging old and new infrastructure projects. And yet, the nascent BRI is marked by ambiguity in terms of its overall structure and longer-term aims.”
“Faced with this contradiction, regional stakeholders have begun to express concerns over unsustainable projects, debt-for-equity swaps, community backlash, ecological strains and exacerbated trafficking and ethnic issues. This series offers a platform for these countries to engage and to formulate their own takeaways in terms of regional cooperation and risk management," she added.
The Yangon workshop was part of a series organized by SIPRI and FES in China, Central Asia, Europe, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Horn of Africa starting in 2016, to fill the gap in the under-researched security implications of the BRI. The deliberations will continue at a Shanghai workshop in March, with specific focus on the EU-China relations. For more information about the project, go here.
Photos from the event are by Minzayar Oo/FES