30 Sep

World Traders were treated to an in-depth webinar by Professor Anoush Ehteshami on China’s landmark trade, investment and infrastructure project, the Belt & Road Initiative.

A recognised authority on security and strategic studies, as well as the international relations of the Middle East and Persian Gulf, Ehteshami is Professor of International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, where he also holds the Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah Chair in International Relations in the School of Government and International Affairs.

Professor Ehteshami gave a comprehensive overview of the macroeconomic, geopolitical and strategic implications of the BRI, which is intended to put China at the heart of a modern-day Silk Road: a network of land- and sea-based trading routes across Eurasia and beyond.

He noted that infrastructure spending on the project dwarfs that of the Marshall Plan, which revived and restructured Europe following the Second World War. He outlined how, through the BRI, China intends to shape both Eurasia and the coming century in its image. He explained, too, why attitudes towards China in the post-pandemic environment will have serious implications on the influence and success of the BRI itself.

The vastness of the project’s scope, measured in the hundreds of billions of dollars, was clearly matched only by the extent of Ehteshami’s knowledge of the subject – able to fend off with ease questions on everything from the effects of the US elections and the shape of Brexit, to China’s role in the Gulf and its respect for data privacy and the rule of law.

90 minutes was nowhere near enough time to explore the full scope of the BRI – let alone enough to pick the Professor’s brains on the subject! But it gave a crucial insight into one of the most important projects of the next fifty years, and left all World Traders both informed and eager to learn more.

An early casualty of lockdown, the lecture had initially been planned for a Business Lunch in March. Distance and Zoom, however, were no barriers to an insightful, intelligent and though-provoking talk.

Thanks to the Professor for tuning in from Durham.

Harry Lesser