ASEAN Roundtable Series: Making BRI inclusive - are there opportunities for all?


DATE: 30 October 2018, Tuesday

TIME: 10:00am – 1:00pm

VENUE: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The launch of a joint publication by CARI and LSE IDEAS “China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Southeast Asia” by The Hon. Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Minister of Economic Affairs of Malaysia

and ASEAN Roundtable Series on“Making BRI inclusive – are there opportunities for all?”

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has the potential for connectivity “perhaps unmatched in human history.” Its grand ambition of collaboration on such a vast scale is intended to improve infrastructure, investment and connectivity between and among China and the scores of nations in the BRI web.

There has been a steady roll-out since President Xi Jinping first announced the grand design of the BRI in 2013 (then called One-Belt-One-Road). Described in May 2017 by President Xi himself as the “project of the century”, the extant of the BRI (according to the World Bank) accounts for over 30% of the world’s GDP, 62% of its population and 75% of recognised energy resources. The BRI comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt, which bridges China to Central and South Asia and onward to Europe; and the New Maritime Silk Road, connecting China to countries in Southeast Asia, Africa, the Gulf nations and Europe1.

There are five primary aspects to BRI – Infrastructure connectivity, cooperation of development plans and policies, smoother trade facilitation, financial integration and people-to-people exchange2.

As part of the BRI, a US$40 billion Silk Road Fund was set up in December 2014 to finance and invest predominantly in infrastructure and resources. The founding shareholders of the fund are China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the China Investment Corp, the Export-Import Bank of China and the China Development Bank.

The AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), although not directly connected to the BRI, was established around the time of its launch, to provide sovereign and non-sovereign financing for sound and sustainable projects in energy and power, transportation and telecommunications, rural infrastructure and agriculture development, water supply and sanitation, environmental protection, and urban development and logistics.

Five years after the BRI was first mooted by China, there are however rising concerns involving projects in a number of countries across the world, many in Southeast Asia, including Malaysia. These concerns range from project contractual terms and cost, ballooning debts, and subsumed sovereign rights.

This roundtable will discuss how ASEAN should best balance economic gain and national sovereignty. Could ASEAN adopt a collaborative position with China in BRI implementation including through aligning its Masterplan for ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 with it? What are the associated costs and benefits for countries embracing China’s BRI? Can BRI provide real growth opportunities for all nations, especially ASEAN?

1 Belt and Road Initiative. The World Bank. [Online] 29 March 2018. Available from: here [Accessed: 9 October 2018]. 2 Bastos, Paulo S. R.; Exposure of belt and road economies to china trade shocks (English). The World Bank. Available from: here [Accessed: 9 October 2018].


​​Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali,Minister of Economic Affairs of Malaysia Dato’ Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali is the Minister of Economic Affairs in the new administration headed by Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, having been sworn in on May 21, 2018. Azmin is a representative of both the Federal Parliament as well as the State Legislature of Selangor. Prior to being appointed to his current Federal Cabinet post, he was Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) of Selangor, a post he assumed in September 2014. Azmin relinquished his post as Menteri Besar of Selangor on June 19, 2018 on his appointment to the Federal Cabinet. Azmin’s current portfolio as Minister of Economic Affairs includes the Economic Planning Unit, the Private-Public Partnership Unit and the implementation and Coordination Unit. Azmin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Mathematics and a Master’s degree in Education and Economics from the University of Minnesota.

​​Pauline Loong, Senior Fellow, CIMB ASEAN Research Institute Pauline Loong is the managing director of the Hong Kong-based research consultancy Asia-analytica. She is also a Senior Fellow of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute. She has earned an outstanding reputation as among the best-informed analysts of China’s political economy. She authors the well-known “Loong on China” newsletter which has won accolades for its perceptiveness as well as its meticulous research and reliability.

Her distinguished career includes her role as senior vice-president and China risk analyst at CIMB Securities. She was responsible for alerting clients to the changing dynamics shaping China in the 21st century and what they mean for investment decisions.

Previously, she had been a director at Jardine Fleming (now part of JPMorgan) where she headed its China department. She also served as head of research at Jardine Fleming China, a venture backed by the World Bank’s International Financing Corp.

At Jardine Fleming, she successfully guided clients through the most tumultuous decade in modern Chinese history: the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, the death of Deng Xiaoping and the highly confrontational run-up to Hong Kong’s handover to Beijing in 1997.

Ms Loong’s Chinese Mainland connections are impressive and have been developed during three decades of close personal involvement in China’s economy – both as a market player and as a journalistic observer. Her Mainland experience, as well as her expertise, led to an executive position with CITIC Resources as it was developing its offshore business.

The foundations of her Beijing relationships had been laid when she had been among the first foreign correspondents in China in the 1980s as assistant editor of the Far Eastern Economic Review and Editor of its authoritative China Trade Report. In the early 2000s, she had extensive access to top policy circles in Beijing after her appointment as Editor-in-Chief of Euromoney’s stable of financial magazines in Asia.

Ms Loong’s awards include being voted “Best China analyst” in 1993 (representing Jardine Fleming) and being again ranked among the best analysts in 2007 (representing CIMB) in two global polls of fund managers by Asiamoney. She won Euromoney’s “Best Stories Award” in 2000 for her analysis on Asia’s growing hedge fund industry and in 2003 on the takeover of Jardine Fleming by Chase.

She graduated in English Literature from the University of Hong Kong. She was nominated by Jardine Matheson to undertake course studies on socialist economics and the Chinese political system at Peking University and at Tsinghua University in 1997.

​​Professor Christopher Coker,
Director, LSE IDEAS
Christopher Coker is a Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and former Head of Department. He is also Director, LSE IDEAS. He has been a Visiting Guest Scholar at the National Institute for Defence Studies (Tokyo); Visiting Fellow at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Singapore; Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Security and International Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok; Visiting Fellow at the Norwegian Staff College; and is at present Visiting Fellow at the Swedish National Defence College.

He was a NATO Fellow in 1981. He served two terms on the Council of the Royal United Services Institute. He was a serving member of the Washington Strategy Seminar; the Black Sea University Foundation; the Moscow School of Politics and the Academic Board of the Czech Diplomatic Academy. He is at present on the Advisory Board of the Brenthurst Foundation (Johannesburg). He was a Visiting Fellow of Goodenough College in 2003-4. He is a former editor of The Atlantic Quarterly and The European Security Analyst. Professor Coker has published extensively on war and conflict. His next book, The Rise of the Civilizational State will be published in January 2019.

​​Dr. Tang Siew MunHead of ASEAN Studies Centre, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute Dr. Tang Siew Mun is the Head of the ASEAN Studies Centre and concurrently a Senior Fellow at the Regional Strategic and Political Studies programme at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute. His primary research interests are Asian security, ASEAN’s relations with the major powers and Japanese foreign policy. Prior to joining ISEAS, he was Director for Foreign Policy and Security Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS), Malaysia and Senior Lecturer at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. He has contributed to numerous book chapters and op-ed pieces in addition to national and international journals. Tang holds a B.A (Hons.) from the National University of Malaysia, a MA in War Studies from King’s College London, a MA in International Studies from the Claremont Graduate University and a Ph.D. from Arizona State University in Political Science.

​​Dato’ Abdul Majid Khan,President, Malaysia-China Friendship Association

Dato’ Abdul Majid is currently the President of the Malaysia-China Friendship Association (PPMC) and Exco Member of the Malaysia-China Business Council. He obtained a Bachelors degree in Economics (Honours) from University of Malaya. In his thirty-four years of service with the Government, he served in the Prime Minister’s Department and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as in several missions abroad (Vietnam, Laos, China, USA and Nigeria). He has also held senior positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He also acted as the Under Secretary of West Asia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and has participated in several Ministerial and Prime Ministerial visits to West Asian Countries and OIC Meetings. During his tenure as the Director General of ASEAN, he actively participated in the organisation of the 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting held in Kuala Lumpur as well as the ASEAN Head of Summit and the 10+3 Summit Meetings in Malaysia. In 1998, he was appointed as the Ambassador of Malaysia to the People’s Republic of China and concurrently accredited to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea until his retirement on 2nd January, 2005. Post-retirement, he continues to actively participate in various conferences and seminars dealing with the subject of China’s Economic Development and ASEAN. He sits on the board of directors of several companies, both listed and private.


​​Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid Chairman, CIMB ASEAN Research Institute President, ASEAN Business Club

Tan Sri Dr. Munir is currently Chairman of CIMB ASEAN Research Institute, of Bank Muamalat Malaysia Berhad, of the Financial Services Professional Board, of ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Malaysia, as well as President of the ASEAN Business Club. He also sits on the board of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) Malaysia. He is an active advocate of deeper ASEAN economic integration.

He has an extensive experience and is well known in the Malaysian corporate world. He had been the Group Editor of the New Straits Times, first executive chairman of CIMB and founding chairman of the Malaysian Securities Commission. After stepping down from the Securities Commission in 1999, he became Independent Non-Executive Director of Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Chairman of Celcom (Malaysia) Berhad and Non-Executive Chairman of Malaysian Airline System Berhad. He was Founder President of the Kuala Lumpur Business Club, established in 2003 and is a member of the Court of Fellows of the Malaysian Institute of Management.

Tan Sri Dr. Munir obtained a B.Sc (Econ) and Ph.D in International Relations from the London School of Economic and Political Science (LSE) in 1971 and 1978. He is an Honorary Fellow of LSE and continues the long association with his alma mater as Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE IDEAS (Centre of International Affairs, Diplomacy and Strategy). Tan Sri Dr. Munir is an associate of Southeast Asia Centre (SEAC) at LSE.

​​REGISTRATION Participation is strictly by invitation only. For further enquiries and details kindly email to