SMU China Forum 2017: “The Next Phase of the Belt and Road Initiative: Globalisation with Chinese Characteristics?”

7 Nov 2017

The Singapore Management University (SMU) hosted the fifth SMU China Forum on 31 October 2017. This year’s Forum was organised within the context of the next phase of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a development strategy spearheaded by China which aims at connecting Asia with Europe and Africa through improvement in connectivity and infrastructures.

Since its launch in 2013, BRI has gained significant traction and garnered the support of over 100 countries and international organisations with more than 40 cooperation agreements signed to date. This ambitious undertaking could usher in an age of unprecedented globalisation exchanges. In particular, it will give the economies of ASEAN countries including Singapore a huge boost through infrastructure development and improved connectivity as catalysts.

This year, the Forum was attended by Guest-of-Honour Dr Koh Poh Koon, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development and Mr Zheng Chao, Minister Counsellor (Economic and Commercial), Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore. The morning session featured 4 keynote speakers who shared their views on BRI from both academic and industry perspectives.  

In his welcome remarks to open the Forum, SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer said that SMU has been contributing to the BRI through its joint research project with Chongqing University (CQU) under the Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI). SMU signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CQU to foster academic cooperation in March this year, which aims to combine the academic strengths of both universities, to conduct R&D and develop talents in logistics. The CCI is the 3rd government-to-government collaborative undertaking between Singapore and China, and Chongqing is an important nexus in the grand scheme of the BRI.

Eminent speakers invited to deliver keynote addresses were:

·      Prof Cheng Qiang, Dean, SMU School of Accountancy 

·      Mrs Nina Yang, CEO Sustainable Urban Development of Ascendas-Singbridge Group

·      Prof Yi Zhihong, Professor of Finance, School of Business, Renmin University of China

·      Prof Gong Baihua, Associate Dean, Fudan-Shanghai Advanced Institute of Lawyers, Fudan University  

They shared their respective insights on the following topics:

·      The importance of Corporate Governance in the Context of BRI

·      BRI: New Landscape, New Opportunities 

·      Financial Support Measures for the Belt and Road Initiative: Opportunities and Challenges      

·      BRI: Constructing International Rules and Mitigating Investment Risks   

Through this annual platform, SMU brought together prominent scholars and experts, government officials and industry experts in an illuminating discussion on the impact of China’s BRI and opportunities for ASEAN nations, including Singapore. Being a key strategic point in the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, Singapore has sizeable investments and extensive trade links with China. By assuming the strategic role of a regional financial hub, Singapore can contribute to and facilitate the development of the BRI.

The afternoon session was a roundtable discussion themed “Connectivity and Cooperation within the BRI Framework: How Singapore and China can benefit together?” The panel included business leaders, senior government officials and experts from SMU, who exchanged ideas and knowledge on economic and social issues of significance and interest to Singapore and China.

Professor James Tang, Dean of SMU School of Social Sciences and Advisor to SMU President on China Affairs, moderated the roundtable discussion, which comprised five eminent representatives from the academia, business and public sectors:

·      Associate Professor Henry Gao, SMU School of Law; and Member, Advisory Board, WTO Chairs Programme, WTO Secretariat

·      Mr Law Chung Ming, Group Director, Transport and Logistics Group, IE Singapore

·      Dr Li Wenlong, Senior Economist (China Economy), ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO)

·      Mr Meng Fanqiu, President, China Enterprises Association (Singapore)

·      Dr Santitarn Sathirathai Head of Emerging Asia Economics, Credit Suisse AG 


[Featured photo: Dr Koh Poh Koon(center) , Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development and Mr Zheng Chao (second left), Minister Counsellor (Economic and Commercial) Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Singapore graced the SMU China Forum on 31 October 2017.]

Last updated on 08 Nov 2017 .