Since March 2019, Jacob Mardell has been travelling overland from Brussels to Beijing, learning about Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects and their host countries.
Passing through 21 countries in Southeast Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia he has visited Beijing-sponsored infrastructure projects, interviewed local experts, and spoken to the public about their perceptions of China.
In this seminar, Jacob would like to share his understanding of Xi Jinping’s foreign policy defining initiative, as well as explore some recurring themes and region specific takeaways from his journey along the “Silk Road Economic Belt.”
Contrary to popular perceptions of the BRI as a strategically defined and spatially anchored route running from A to B, Jacob sees ground-level BRI as a hodgepodge collective of projects with varying drivers, outcomes, and realities. For example, Chinese companies come to Serbia because they want to win projects in near-European markets, whereas investments in Tajikistan are driven by overheated markets at home and an appetite for risky, informal environments.
Beyond policy analysis, BRI cannot be understood from a bird’s eye view. Through comparative perspectives, Jacob hopes the international community can better understand and make the best of China’s expanding global economic footprint.
About the Speaker
Jacob Mardell has been travelling the Belt and Road overland for the past year as part of his The China Road project (@The_China_Road). Prior to embarking on this trip, he was working at the Mercator Institute of China Studies (MERICS) in Berlin, where he conducted data collection for the MERICS Belt and Road Tracker. He currently works in a freelance capacity for MERICS, and will be returning as a full time analyst in September.
Jacob writes a column about his travels for the Berlin Policy Journal, published by the German Council on Foreign Relations. He has also written reports for the Bertelsmann Foundation, as well as articles on the Belt and Road for Foreign Policy, Politico, South China Morning Post, and others.
He holds a diploma in Chinese language from Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics, and a postgraduate degree in Chinese Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
© 2019 ICS All rights reserved.
Powered by Matrix Nodes