China’s Belt & Road Initiative: “Small but Beautiful?”


About the Hybrid Seminar

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Southeast Asian countries were significant beneficiaries of China’s FDI under the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI). The pandemic has stalled China’s investment and BRI projects globally. With this year’s reopening, China’s BRI investment flows into Southeast Asia are expected to recover. The much-awaited return of Chinese investments to the region is being met with great expectations but also some concerns. The concerns relate to the potential impacts of BRI on the host countries’ environment and debt levels. In recent years, the Chinese government has tried to address the shortcomings of the initial BRI projects and at the same time promote green development projects, such as renewable energy, technology and electric vehicles.

This webinar will consider these issues and provide an overview of the progress and challenges facing China’s BRI projects in three Southeast Asian countries, namely Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It will examine recent changes and future prospects of BRI projects in these countries and beyond, in light of a slowing Chinese economy.

About the Speakers

Brian Lee is an economist at Maybank Securities’ research team covering Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, and overall ASEAN macro thematics research. Prior to joining the firm in March 2022, he spent 5 years as an economist at the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Brian holds double degrees in Economics and Finance from the Singapore Management University.

Jayant Menon joined the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute as Senior Fellow to continue his work on trade and development in the Asian region, following his early retirement from the ADB in 2020. His last post at the ADB was Lead Economist in the Office of the Chief Economist. He began work life as an academic in Australia, spending almost a decade at the Centre of Policy Studies at Monash University, a leading centre for computable general equilibrium modelling. He has worked at the University of Melbourne, Victoria University, the American University in Washington, DC and the ADB Institute in Tokyo. He holds adjunct appointments with the Australian National University, University of Nottingham, UK and IDEAS, Malaysia. He has authored/edited 15 books, 40 chapters in books and 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals.

Tham Siew Yean is Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore and Professor Emeritus, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. She was formerly Director and Professor of International Trade at Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Her research interests cover trade in goods and services as well as foreign direct investment (FDI), including BRI projects from China in Malaysia. She has served as a consultant with national agencies such as Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Malaysia, and international agencies such as World Bank, World Bank Institute, ERIA, Asian Development Bank and Asian Development Bank Institute. She has published extensively on trade-related issues in books and journals such as Journal of Contemporary Asia, Emerging Markets, Finance and Trade, Asian Economic Panel and Prague Economic Papers, besides co-editing several books published by international publishing houses. She has a PhD in Economics from University of Rochester, USA.

Siwage Dharma Negara is a Senior Fellow and Co-Coordinator of the Indonesia Studies Programme at the ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute. He is also the Coordinator of the Singapore APEC Study Centre at the same institute. His research focuses on macroeconomic and development issues, industrial and trade policies with a special focus on Indonesia. He co-edited The Riau Islands Province: Setting Sail (2021, ISEAS) and The Indonesian Economy in Transition: Policy Challenges in the Jokowi Era and Beyond (2019, ISEAS). Before joining the institute, he worked as a researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and economist consultant for the World Bank Office Jakarta. He received his PhD (Economics) from the University of Melbourne, Australia.


This is a hybrid event which will be held at ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute (ISEAS).

Attending the Event In-person at ISEAS

To join the event in-person at ISEAS, please register via the ISEAS mobile app, available on iOS and Android via the Apple or Play store. Search “ISEAS” to find or scan this QR code.

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Seating capacity is limited. Do register early to avoid disappointment.

Attending the Event Virtually via Webinar

To join the event virtually at the specified date and time using your internet devices, please register here to receive your unique login link for the webinar via the zoom platform.

If you have questions for the speaker, please key in your questions via the Q&A, stating your name and affiliation. The moderator will field them to the speakers during the Q&A session.


Aug 22 2023


2:00 pm - 4:00 pm


ISEAS Seminar Room 2 / Webinar