PBS’ hit documentary is back. The challenge tackled is China and the New Silk Road. And how the U.S. approaches this challenge.
On January 3rd, 2018, PBS premiered the 46th season of their hit documentary series “Great Decisions in Foreign Policy”. Each critically-acclaimed season features eight half-hour documentaries, each tackling a different challenge facing America today. The third episode titled “China: The New Silk Road”, brings together some of the most important figures in international affairs and U.S. foreign policy including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Sec. Madeleine Albright, Sen. Christopher Coons, Gen Michael Hayden, and Professor Chris Brummer. These experts analyze China’s rapid economic expansion in recent years and to discuss the potential implications of the country’s recent One Belt, One Road Initiative.
China is currently the second largest economy in the world, ranking only behind the United States. As this fiscal juggernaut progresses towards becoming the epicenter of global trade, it is investing abroad at a staggering rate, undertaking massive infrastructure projects around the world. Through China’s recent One Belt, One Road Initiative, arguably its most ambitious economic and diplomatic program to date, the country seeks to develop express trade routes connecting China to over 60 Asian and European countries by road and rail and significantly expanding its market access.
Unfortunately, such massive growth is not without consequence. China’s GDP growth has slowed to the single digits for the first time in decades and the decision to decentralize much of China’s economy may result in a rippling of unintended consequences for years to come.
Chris Brummer, a professor at Georgetown Law, warns that as China shifts from a manufacturing-based economy to one that is more service-oriented, the country will likely face considerable difficulties deciding on a method of transition “that’s sustainable, that creates as few social dislocations as possible, while at the same time delivering for people a certain level of economic growth to which they’ve become accustomed.”
With its extensive foreign exchange reserves now exceeding $4 Trillion and its current contributions to the Global GDP surpassing those of the U.S. and Europe combined, China is proving itself as a formidable economic presence on the world stage. The world can only wait and see if China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative becomes the largest platform for regional economic collaboration that the world has ever known or if extenuating circumstances lead to the decay and disintegration of this new Silk Road, much like its predecessor hundreds of years ago.
China: The New Silk Road and all of the other episodes of the 46th season of Great Decisions in Foreign Policy can be viewed on PBS or Amazon.
Chris Brummer is Agnes N. Williams Research Professor and Faculty Director of Georgetown’s Institute of International Economic Law. Prior to joining Georgetown’s faculty with tenure in 2009, Brummer was an assistant professor of law at Vanderbilt Law School. He has also taught at several leading universities as a visiting professor including the universities of Basel, Heidelberg, and the London School of Economics. Brummer’s expertise includes international trade and international financial regulation.
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