ABOUT THE BOOK
By Wang Xiaojun, Asia Comms Lab
Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, the Chinese government has signed 198 deals with 137 countries and 30 international institutes by the end of Nov 2019. Trade in goods between China and the Belt and Road en-route countries reached over USD$ 7.5 trillion, and China’s direct investment in these countries surpassed USD$ 100 billion.
These projects and trade have brought benefits to host countries’ and made it more feasible to realize certain sustainable development goals (SDGs) sooner, such as no poverty, quality education, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and industry, innovation and infrastructure. At the same time, controversies and even suspicions around BRI have been getting louder.
Controversies are rich recipes for media coverage, and intriguing data for academic research. However, some voices are not being heard in the buzz. Those voices are from communities who live right beside the BRI projects, have the most direct access to BRI impacts, and therefore, are the most credible witnesses to these projects.
These voices, unfortunately, do not yet receive an appropriate amount of recognition and sincerity from a worthy audience. It could be because of a language barrier, or mechanism inefficiency by host countries’ governments and corporations, or even a cultural gap. The existence of this book is to serve as a bridge, an amplifier, a stage.
We believe that only when these voices are heard by more, especially by those who have the money and power, the “Five Connectivities (policy connectivity, infrastructure connectivity, trade connectivity, financial connectivity, and people-to-people connectivity)” can truly be rid of clogs and barriers. That is also when risks, for huge investments, are minimized and real benefits and welfare improvements are shared by all involved.