The Miriam College Department of International Studies (MCIS) kicked off its annual International Experts Lecture Series via Zoom on 31 October 2020. This year’s event focuses on foreign policies of selected states with considerable importance to Philippine security and economic realities. The first resource speaker to grace the event was China expert and geopolitical analyst, Mr. Anu Anwar who discussed the centerpiece of China’s geo-economic policy - the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Mr. Anwar, a Fellow at the Harvard Asia Center and an Associate in Research at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies in Harvard University, provided a comprehensive analysis on why China seeks the BRI covering both domestic and external factors. He also addressed crucial issues such as the debt implications of the BRI in some countries in South Asia and Africa and the policy responses of other Indo-Pacific powers such as the United States, Australia, India, and Japan to China’s grand infrastructure project.
The audience, composed of 150 participants from different universities in the Philippines, government agencies, international organizations and private institutions threw in critical questions concerning China’s gains from the BRI, the impact of COVID-19 to its implementation and the future prospects of China’s flagship policy. Mr. Anwar succinctly and unequivocally answered each question showing his expertise and knowledge that further enlightened the audience.
Highlighting the main objective of the event, Dr. Melanie Reyes, Chairperson of the Miriam College Department of International Studies, expressed her optimism that the lecture series will significantly contribute to elevating foreign policy discourse among students and professionals. On the other hand, Ms. Jonalyn Villasante, Head of the lecture series organizing committee emphasized the importance of bringing in different scholarly perspectives to enable students who will be future leaders and practitioners to be critical thinkers and well-informed decision-makers.
-- By Mary Ysabelle Samantha A. Chikiamco