The Development of China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative in South Asia & it Implication for Business & Government

Jean-Marc F. Blanchard
Publication Date: 
November 18th, 2018

This piece discusses the general features as well as economic and political goals of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the associated Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI), with a special focus on the MSRI in South Asia, a key MSRI region. It also identifies a number of economic factors at the country level, and with respect to China-e.g., high debt levels for some South Asian participants and and Chinese limits on outward foreign direct investment (FDI)-that will affect the realization of the MSRI. It further highlights diverse political factor that present challenges for the MSRI including Indian coolness towards China's scheme, domestic instability in South Asian countries, and Japanese countermeasures. As far as takeaways for buinesses and government are concerned, the piece highlights various ways the MSRI may disadvantage foreign governments and companies, but notes a multitude of paths through which the MSRI offers gains to foreign firms and governments, too. The article concludes that there should not be excessive optimism or pessimism about China's scheme and that buinesses and governments need to "reflect dispassionately about the ways that they can shape the costs and benefits of" various scenarios.

*****This piece originally appeared as Jean-Marc F. Blanchard, "The Development of China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative in South Aia & Its Implications for Business & Government," Japan Spotlight (November/December 2018), pp. 61-65.