China will host its second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing on April 26-27, two years after hosting its inaugural forum that was attended by dozens of world leaders and put a spotlight on Beijing’s massive signature initiative and its global leadership ambitions. Now in its sixth year, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—which Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the “project of the century”—has been welcomed by countries seeking Chinese investment and loans. But it has also raised significant concerns about the sustainability of and intentions behind the initiative. Join the U.S. Institute of Peace for a conference that will look at the impact of China’s signature connectivity initiative on peace and security. 

This event will be webcast on this page the day of the event.

A Chinese construction worker at work, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)
A Chinese construction worker at work, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. (Adam Dean/The New York Times)

Six years after its inception in 2013, BRI has become a major global force. But it has also sparked a reexamination of the unique model that differentiates BRI from other infrastructure connectivity initiatives, in ways both positive and negative. 

China portrays BRI as an effort to expand regional connectivity by building infrastructure, creating digital linkages, and facilitating trade flows. Beijing has dedicated hundreds of billions of dollars to the scheme, which is meant to help fill a yawning infrastructure gap in Asia and beyond. Critics, especially in Washington, believe that BRI’s primary purpose is to expand Chinese influence at the expense of its partners.

BRI projects often move fast, circumventing the traditional international development model and ignoring safeguards on debt sustainability, local employment, anti-corruption, and the environment. Many BRI projects also lack transparency, and have been reevaluated when governments change hands. 

This conference will feature two panels: The first will discuss cross-regional trends and concerns about BRI, alternatives to the Chinese model of investment and development, and strategies for increasing the sustainability of international development efforts. The second panel will examine the on-the-ground impact of BRI in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa and implications for conflict dynamics in these regions. Take part in the conference on Twitter with #BRI.


Opening Remarks - Jennifer Staats, Director, East and Southeast Asia Programs, U.S. Institute of Peace

1:30pm – 3:00pm - Panel 1

  • Samantha Custer
    Director of Policy Analysis, AidData 
  • Scott Morris
    Senior Fellow and Director of the U.S. Development Policy Initiative, Center for Global Development 
  • Pauline Muchina
    Public Education and Advocacy Coordinator, Africa Region, American Friends Service Committee 
  • Fei Yu
    Deputy Representative, North American Representative Office of the Asia Development Bank
  • Patricia Kim, moderator
    Senior Policy Analyst, China Program, U.S. Institute of Peace

3:15pm – 4:45pm - Panel 2

  • Brian Harding
    Deputy Director and Fellow, Southeast Asia Program, Center for Strategic and International Studies 
  • Khin Khin Kyaw Kyee (via Skype)
    Lead Researcher, Institute for Strategy and Policy – Myanmar 
  • Paul Nantulya 
    Research Associate, Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Andrew Small 
    Senior Transatlantic Fellow, Asia Program, German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Jacob Stokes, moderator
    Senior Policy Analyst, China Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
Registration Type
Your Information
Work Information
How did you hear about this event?

Related Publications

China’s Engagement with Smaller South Asian Countries

China’s Engagement with Smaller South Asian Countries

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

By: Nilanthi Samaranayake

When the government of Sri Lanka struggled to repay loans used to build the Hambantota port, it agreed to lease the port back to China for 99 years. Some commentators have suggested that Sri Lanka, as well as other South Asian nations that have funded major infrastructure projects through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, are victims of “China’s debt-trap diplomacy.” This report finds that the reality is...

Economics & Environment

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

India-Pakistan Tensions Test China’s Relationships, Crisis Management Role

Thursday, March 7, 2019

By: Jacob Stokes; Jennifer Staats

The latest India-Pakistan crisis has put China in a difficult position, as it tries to balance its relationships with both countries, while helping to stave off a conflict and demonstrate its ability to manage and resolve crises. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke to leaders in both Pakistan and India last week, urging them to practice restraint and find a way to deescalate the situation. Despite Pakistan’s request for China to play a more active role, competing priorities constrained the degree to which Beijing could lead—highlighting a chronic challenge for Chinese diplomacy in South Asia. China’s decision to keep a low profile is likely deliberate and in keeping with longstanding practice, but it is inconsistent with Beijing’s aspirations to lead in Asian crisis diplomacy.

Conflict Analysis & Prevention; Mediation, Negotiation & Dialogue

Can Soft Power Work in a Sharp Power World?

Can Soft Power Work in a Sharp Power World?

Friday, November 30, 2018

By: Anthony Miller

Speaking at USIP’s seventh Bipartisan Congressional Dialogue, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) and Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) discussed the threat posed by sharp power to global stability and how the United States, through bipartisan efforts, could use soft power to counter this threat.

Democracy & Governance; Global Policy

View All Publications