Global Development Institute Blog

GDI researcher Seth Schindler recently presented at The First General Assembly of the Alliance of Scientific Organizations (ANSO) in the Belt and Road Region, in Beijing, China.

Created by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, ANSO brings together researchers, policy makers and practitioners to identify how the Belt and Road initiative can best promote sustainable regional development.

Seth presented on the ‘race to connect the world’ through infrastructure-led development:

Seth focused on the International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC), which was recently created by the U.S. Government and provided with $60 billion for overseas infrastructure projects. He argued that infrastructure-led development is increasingly a field of competition among global superpowers, but in its current form the IDFC will be unable to compete with the Belt and Road Initiative.

Returning from the conference Seth observed that:

“This conference brought together representatives of national science organizations from countries included in the Belt and Road Initiative. Most of the non-Chinese participants were from Southeast, Central, South and East Asia. Only a small number of European and North American delegates were in attendance, so it really represented the changing geography of globalization.

Scientific cooperation is only one field in which BRI countries cooperate, and I’d say that it’s an unambiguous benefit of the BRI. It’s interesting to consider this in the context of the growing hostility of the U.S. to the BRI – and multilateralism in general. Vice President Mike Pence’s recent speech at the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea in November was openly critical of the BRI. He said that the “United States deals openly, fairly.  We do not offer a constricting belt or a one-way road.  When you partner with us, we partner with you, and we all prosper.”

It’s unclear how he justifies this statement in the era of ‘America first.’ I suspect that the United States will continue to alienate its traditional allies in the coming years, and we’ll see many more countries align their domestic policies with the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Read Seth’s recent commentary on infrastructure-led development:


Thinking about studying for a master’s?

Note:  This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole.