China’s Belt and Road Initiative aims to transform connectivity and cooperation on trade and development across Asia and beyond. To succeed, the initiative will require the deployment of modern infrastructure across several regions and sectors.
In recent years narratives have shifted around global progress towards a low-carbon and sustainable future: where once there was concern over the costs of action, now there is increasing recognition of opportunities for growth and productivity.
An essential part of this growth story is the drive to develop sustainable infrastructure, for which the right kind of investment is needed. Both China and Sweden have been forerunners in advancing green finance. China now issues more green bonds than any other country, while a decade ago the Swedish bank SEB, alongside the World Bank, pioneered green bonds.
As Sweden’s Minister for the Environment Ms Karolina Skog makes an official visit to China, the Brookings-Tsinghua Center for Public Policy, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), and the Embassy of Sweden in China are organizing a dialogue to promote innovation in green finance and sustainable infrastructure in the Belt and Road Initiative.
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Mao Zedong did not see the value of reform and opening up. The China part of Nixon’s 1967 Foreign Affairs article suggested an implicit bargain that provided the conceptual basis for China’s new direction after 1978. That bargain was if China focused on domestic development and didn’t threaten the security of its neighbours, the United States would help.
Sentiment inside the Beltway has turned sharply against China. There are many issues where the two parties sound more or less the same. Trump and others in the administration seem heavily invested in a ‘get very tough with China’ stance. It’s possible that some Democrats might argue that a decoupling strategy borders on lunacy. But if Trump believes this will play well with his core constituencies as his reelection campaign moves into high gear, he will probably decide to stick with it, if the costs and the collateral damage seem manageable. But that’s a very big if, especially if the downsides of a protracted trade war for both American consumers and for American firms become increasingly apparent.