China’s Belt and Road, G7’s Build Back Better World (B3W) and EU’s Global Gateway: a means of sustainable development or a zero-sum game?

March 17, 2022 | 13:30 h - 14:30 h

Speaker: Dr. Murad Ali

Title: China’s Belt and Road, G7’s Build Back Better World (B3W) and EU’s Global Gateway: a means of sustainable development or a zero-sum game?


Chinese President Xi Jinping officially launched the multibillion-dollar multiyear transcontinental Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2015 to finance infrastructure projects including power plants, trade and economic corridors, and telecommunication and transport infrastructure. According to China Power Project of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), at US$ 1.4 trillion and still growing, the BRI touches 138 countries with a combined GDP of US$ 29 trillion and some 4.6 billion people or about 60 percent of the global population and there was a total of US$ 6 trillion trade between China and the BRI partner countries between 2014 and 2017. To counter the rising clout of China in Asia and the world over, in partnership with G7 members, the Biden administration launched Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative in 2021. Like China’s BRI, the G7’s B3W aims to forge cross-national and regional cooperation between the countries involved while funding large-scale projects in the developing world. The same year, the European Union (EU) came up with Global Gateway – aims at mobilising investments of up to €300 billion between 2021 and 2027. The EU asserts that key principles will be adhered to including democratic values and high standards, good governance and transparency, equal partnership and green and clean, catalyzing private sector investment. In view of the infrastructure financing gap in developing countries, estimated at approximately US$ 2.5 trillion annually, all the three infinitives seem to complement each other if implemented in spirit of trust and solidarity. However, due to growing mistrust between the US (plus its EU allies) and China, if B3W and Global Gateway are pursued as alternative to BRI, it may lead to a zero-sum game. In times of global uncertainty caused by Covid pandemic and rising populism, it is expected that the three grand strategies stimulate sustainable development rather than strategic competition.  


Dr. Murad Ali, a former Senior Researcher at the German Development Institute (DIE), is Head of the Department of Political Science at the University of Malakand, Pakistan. He is the author of ‘The politics of US aid to Pakistan: aid allocation and delivery from Truman to Trump’ (Routledge: London/New York: 2019). He contributes regularly to The News International, one of Pakistan’s leading English dailies.

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Fazlullah Akhtar

Dr. Fazlullah Akhtar


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