Image of Dr. Danilo Türk, Former President of Slovenia
Credit: Richard Marsham

China's Belt and Road from a European Perspective

China's economic Belt and Road Initiative was approached from a global and European perspective at Jesus College last night, at a lecture given by Dr Danilo Türk - Slovenian diplomat, Professor of International Law, former President of Slovenia (2007 to 2012), and former Assistant Secretary General of the UN.

As described by Dr Türk, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is: "a long term policy orientation that is intensely aware of the realities of geography and history and seeks to offer new prospects of development to specific, geographically defined areas along the New Silk Road." Covering counties across the globe, the BRI focuses on connectivity and cooperation across the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt and the ocean-going Maritime Silk Road. Dr Türk noted: "It is a vision of externalization of China’s path of development, something that responds as much to the Chinese domestic needs as it responds to her needs for a new global strategy."

Moving from China's success in lifting more than 800 million people from poverty, and a focus on a "new era" of China as it continues to grow and prosper, Dr Türk's lecture also covered the changing global and political environment, multiple and competing versions of modernity and environmental and economic management.

Dr Türk concluded his lecture by stating: "Building bridges is a good metaphor in politics in general and international relations in particular. There is no surplus of bridges in our world. We clearly need a few more. The Belt and Road Initiative and its central idea – connectivity – comes close to the building of bridges in its technical meaning, as an exercise of construction. And as any construction, bridge building must observe the relevant technical standards, the right choice of location, the right choice of material and, above all, sophisticated engineering. All this is needed in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative. If these requirements are met – and there is no reason why they should not be – then the bridge building of the Belt and Road Initiative can help in building stability and peace in this century."

Dr Julian Huppert, Director of the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, said: "We are delighted to have welcomed Dr Türk, and thank him for sharing his global expertise. Interesting and provocative, his lecture was ultimately an optimistic take on China's effect on Europe in the future."

The event was organised by the Intellectual Forum in partnership with the Cambridge Oriental Culture Association (COCA) and kind sponsored by the Hoii.