Iowa State University The Belt and Road Essay

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Please read the case study and answer the 4 questions below.

  • Case study 1 should be turned in on Canvas with an attached word file (see the “assignments”)
  • Please note the deadline. If you miss the deadline, but turn in the assignment within 3 days (11:59pm Feb 19), 5 points will be deducted for the delay. After 3 days passed the deadline, no late work will be accepted. Please submit the late turn-in to Dr. Rebecca Tang through the email on Canvas.
  • The turn-in should be single-spaced with 1-inch margins in 12 point Times New Roman font. APA style is preferred if reference is needed. Please limit your answer between 2 and 4 pages for each assignment (excluding references, appendices, or visuals). In your turn-in, please include the specific questions and your corresponding answers. Don’t include the text body of the case study in the instruction.

Background Study: Students are advised to conduct background research of Belt and Road Initiative before answering the questions. (Background study does NOT need to be shown in the answer sheet students turn in). There are several potential approaches of background research:

Unpacking the Belt and Road Initiative: What Is It and Where Is It Going?


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s mammoth and globe-girdling infrastructure and trade corridor project, represents one of those rare watershed developments for international affairs—something so big and consequential that it is impossible to ignore, no matter where in the world one might be sitting.

The scale alone is extraordinary. According to some estimates (????????), BRI boasts the potential to involve more than 60 countries, nearly 4.5 billion people, and around 40% of the economy, and to be 12 times as large in absolute dollar terms as the Marshall Plan. More broadly, this is a case of the word’s likely next superpower endeavoring to build one of the biggest and most expensive super projects the world has ever seen.

[BRI] represents one of the most concrete indications of Beijing’s deepening influence and presence around the world.

For the Trump administration, BRI is something to be regarded with concern. And that’s because it represents one of the most concrete indications of Beijing’s deepening influence and presence around the world. This expanding global reach is of particular concern for Washington because the Trump administration regards Beijing as its greatest strategic rival—and as a national security threat. When the Trump administration released its first national security strategy (????????), at the end of 2017, that document described strategic rivalry, and not terrorism, as America’s top national security threat.

BRI was a major motivating factor leading to the implementation of the Trump administration’s new Indo Pacific strategy—an initiative, much like the Obama administration’s Asia rebalance policy, that redoubles U.S. attention and resources to Asia and that seeks to promote free trade and a rules-based order in that region. Several American allies in Asia—including most recently South Korea—have come out with similar policies meant to engage more deeply in the Indo-Pacific, and by extension to respond to the BRI phenomenon.

BRI was the subject of a recent conference (????????) at King’s College in London jointly hosted by the Wilson Center’s Asia Program and the London-based Royal Society for Asian Affairs (????????) (RSAA). The event, held on January 7, marked the second collaboration between the two organizations, with the first coming at the Wilson Center in January 2018 with a conference (????????) on religious freedom in South Asia.

The London event highlighted some of the initial economic and strategic impacts of BRI, particularly in South and Central Asia, and sought to consider BRI’s possible future trajectory. One of the more striking takeaways from the conference was that despite the hype and hoopla that accompany BRI, there’s still much that’s not known about the initiative: What is it meant to be, what are its goals, and what does its future look like? One reason why these questions are difficult to answer at this stage is that the project remains in its relatively incipient stages—it is, as one conference speaker put it, still a baby.

As several speakers acknowledged, there’s no guarantee that BRI will survive.

Another major theme at the conference revolved around the issue of BRI’s survivability. Conference speakers discussed some of its major challenges, from security concerns in key regions of investment to potentially unsustainable financing rooted in the practice of sending large quantities of loans to impoverished countries, thereby heavily indebting nations that already struggle to pay their bills. As several speakers acknowledged, there’s no guarantee that BRI will survive.

You Make the Call

  1. What are the motives or purposes for China government to initiate BRI? (10 points)
  2. What are the potential opportunities that China would face for the initiation of BRI? (10 points)
  3. What are the potential challenges that China would face for the initiation of BRI? (10 points)
  4. Do you think it is a wise political decision for the initiation of BRI? Why? (10 points)

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