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Selling the Silk Road: China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) in Myanmar



24 February 2020

Time: 24/02/2020 - 10:15 to 12:00
Type: Lecture
Place: Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Room 005, Sölvegatan 18 B, Lund

Open lecture with Mads Barbesgaard, Department of Human Geography, Lund University
The BRI is often described as a ‘grand strategy’ led by President Xi Jinping, centrally planned and rolled out by obedient state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The sheer size of the initiative – 136 countries have received US$90 billion in Chinese foreign direct investment and exchanged US$6 trillion in trade with China - can make the BRI appear monolithic and inevitable. However, using a political economy analysis, this talk presents an alternative analysis arguing that the BRI is not a grand strategy, but a broad framework of activities that seek to address a crisis in Chinese capitalism. This is shown concretely through an examination of four BRI projects in Myanmar, detailing their drivers, the multitude of actors involved and the political contestations around them. Mads Barbesgaard has a PhD from the Department of Human Geography, Lund University, where he now teaches. His PhD-dissertation, Landscapes of Dispossession: Multiscalar production of space in Northern Tanintharyi, Myanmar, examined contemporary struggles over control of and access to land and natural resources under Myanmar’s so-called democratic transition. Mads is also a researcher with the Transnational Institute through which he has recently started up work on the Belt and Road Initiative in Myanmar – his interest in the BRI broadly covers the political, economic and environmental implications of BRI-projects particularly across South-East Asia.  Welcome!