Call for Abstract Submission: Belt and Road Initiative-related Research Networking Session



Belt and Road Initiative Research Networking Session


Date: 24 May 2019
Venue:  National University of Singapore

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as “One Belt One Road,” is an ambitious program to improve trade, investment, and infrastructure links across the Eurasia and Africa. It consists of an overland “Belt” and a maritime “Road” that respectively cross the Eurasian landmass and connect ports from the Chinese coast through East Africa and Southern Europe. The project covers 65 countries that together account for over 30 percent of the global economy, more than 62 percent of its population, and 75 percent of known fossil energy reserves, according to the World Bank. To support these plans, Beijing has also put forward several institutional innovations. They most notably include the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), China International Commercial Courts based in Shenzhen and Xian, as well as arbitration and mediation mechanisms based at the International Chamber of Commerce and Singapore.


The BRI obviously promises significant economic opportunity and this is an area that supporters of the project are keen to emphasize. Nonetheless, infrastructure projects—especially one as extensive as the BRI—come with significant costs, challenges, and risks. On one hand, these involve direct implications that range from financing to the distribution of costs and benefits between various contracting parties. On the other, the second- and third-order effects including potential damage to the environment, contestation over land, displaced communities, labour tensions, the potential for corruption, and associated political consequences these issues can bring to host states. Already, some disquiet exists over excessive debt burdens, interest rates, and the suspicion of exploitation in societies that already have concerns about foreign involvement in local politics stemming from their Cold War and colonial pasts.


Broader questions surrounding the significance of BRI institutional and legal innovations for the existing set of international regimes, norms, and laws that developed out of the liberal international order that emerged from the end of World War II remain. Issues of technical and legal standards that emerge from cooperation and the incorporation and application of new technologies, including but not limited to 5G networks, artificial intelligence, data protection, and intellectual property rights, also await clearer resolution. How the BRI affects the nature of the relationship between China and the United States, which has its own Free and Open Indo-Pacific approach to Eurasia, too remain inadequately addressed. Such dynamics will frame the political environment for regional organizations like ASEAN and its affiliated bodies, just as they shape the strategic and policy space in which actors such as Singapore operate.


Paper proposals may wish to respond to the following sets of questions:

  • What are the major risks associated with the BRI whether as a whole or in particular locales and how can actors seek to manage or mitigate them?
  • What externalities result from the BRI either as a whole or in particular projects?
  • How might the BRI affect the environment, society, politics, and law in various locales?
  • What consequences might the BRI have on international order, including institutions, regimes, norms, and law?
  • How might the BRI affect international technical standards and what are the resulting legal and political implications?
  • What sorts of opportunities do the second- and third-order effects relating to the BRI open?
  • How might the BRI affect conflict and disputes, including their management and possible resolution?
  • We also invite proposals that approach the BRI from other perspectives.
  • How do the legacies of colonialism, the Cold War, and state building affect receptions of the BRI in host societies?



Submissions should include a title, an abstract of no more than 250 words and a brief biography including name, designation, and email contact. Please note that only previously unpublished papers or those not already committed elsewhere can be accepted. The intention behind this event is to work towards interdisciplinary collaborative research on the Belt and Road Initiative, and thus we strongly encourage researchers seeking to find collaborators to submit their abstracts.


Please submit your proposal to Ms Khin San Nwe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. no later than 24 April 2019. Presenters will be required to present their work, with presentation slides, on 24 May 2019.



A/P Chong Ja Ian |Department of Political Science, National University of Singapore 


Research Division | Dean's Office | Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

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