Executive Roundtable with Danny Russel

On June 6, Asia Society Northern California hosted an Executive Roundtable with Danny Russel at K&L Gates' Silicon Valley office.  

Danny Russel is Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI). Previously he served as a Diplomat in Residence and Senior Fellow with ASPI for a one year term. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service at the U.S. Department of State, he most recently served as the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Prior to his appointment as Assistant Secretary on July 12, 2013, he served at the White House as Special Assistant to the President and National Security Council (NSC) Senior Director for Asian Affairs. During his tenure there, he helped formulate President Obama’s strategic rebalance to the Asia Pacific region, including efforts to strengthen alliances, deepen U.S. engagement with multilateral organizations, and expand cooperation with emerging powers in the region.

Throughout his presentation, Danny highlighted President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign and economic policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).  The BRI is a Chinese-helmed infrastructure development effort which seeks to foster economic development, bolster connectivity, and facilitate trade across more than 70 countries. From the outset, Beijing’s trial-and-error approach to implementing the BRI has evolved from vague slogans to a more carefully structured process. While the initiative marks its sixth anniversary, the BRI has encountered significant obstacles and challenges in implementing infrastructure projects. 

Danny also underscored that as a result of China’s trial-and-error approach during the recent Second Belt and Road Forum in April 2019, the BRI is malleable and continuing to evolve.  Questions asked about its future included: How will China address these systemic issues in the BRI? What measures can be undertaken to improve project implementation and outcomes for both the project host countries and Beijing? What role can the international community play in helping both China and host countries ensure mutually beneficial outcomes?

About Our Roundtables: Asia Society Northern California hosts our private Executive Roundtable Series with industry leaders every month in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. Program topics are around headline news, business analysis, and critical issues coming out of Asia. These monthly briefings, launched in September 2017, have grown in popularity to generate wait-lists quickly. Most events are off-the-record to encourage open debate and discussion.