The Belt and Road Initiative

China is ASEAN’s largest trading partner. It has heavily invested in Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar via loans, businesses, infrastructure and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This has resulted in numerous jobs being created in the less developed ASEAN states. The BRI will also increase connectivity and open doors for potential ASEAN migrants in search of better economic opportunities. This would mean that these migrants have the options of moving to non-traditional receiving countries that are connected by the new silk road. This line of thought may appear premature at this point in time. However, considering China’s aggressive measures to expand and deepen its influence globally, it is important for policy-makers and researchers to study the possible outcomes that this expansion could have for ASEAN migration. The BRI will continue for a substantial period of time. Meanwhile, less developed ASEAN states are benefitting in terms of the number of jobs created, infrastructure-building, improved transportation and most importantly, improved lives of the poor. On the flipside, these states are becoming more beholden to China. Is this a boon or a bane? Time will tell… 

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