Building Infrastructure Requires Building Trust

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The Belt and Road Initiative in a Long-Run Historical Perspective

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Reception 6:30pm
Presentation 7:00pm
Close 8:00pm


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global development strategy that aims to connect Asia, Europe and Africa via the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, with the intention to further market integration and economic cooperation among the countries along the routes. Prof. Paul Seabright examines the BRI in the perspective of two long-run developments: the first looks at the long history of China's engagement through trade and investment with the world outside its borders, while the second is the history of financing economic development in countries that could not afford to pay for the necessary investments themselves. A persistent theme in both cases has been the link between two ways of building trust between the parties vis-à-vis economic cooperation: one relies on political relationships and projection of soft power, while the other relies on the more impersonal rules of international markets for goods, services and capital. How does BRI fit into this framework and what does that imply about its future sustainability?

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Paul Seabright is Professor of Economics at Toulouse School of Economics and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse. His current research lies in three areas of microeconomics: industrial organization and competition policy, the economics of networks and digital society, and behavioral economics. Prof. Seabright is a Fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research and Council member of the European Economic Association. He authored The Company of Strangers: A Natural History of Economic Life, which was shortlisted for the British Academy Book Prize, and drew attention to the pervasiveness of the challenge of building social trust throughout human history. Prof. Seabright did his undergraduate and doctoral studies at University of Oxford, where he was a Fellow of All Souls College, then taught at the University of Cambridge, where he was a Fellow of Churchill College.

Event Details

Fri 18 Oct 2019
6:30 - 8 p.m.

Asia Society Hong Kong Center, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty

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$200 Asia Society members; $350 Non-members
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