Alan Chong: Singapore Engages China’s Belt and Road Initiative: The Pitfalls and Promises of Soft Strategies


25. 9. 2019 10:00


Trainee centre 3.40, Vodární 6, Olomouc


As a trading state that practices ‘abridged Realism’, Singapore engages China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through soft strategies. On the politico-security front, Singapore has maintained a measured continuity in criticizing China’s disregard of international law in relation to territorial disputes in Asia and lobbies ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to maintain a united front in dealing with a rising China that is frequently tempted to split ASEAN through the artichoke strategy of cutting special bilateral deals. This steadfast adherence to principle has threatened to occasionally derail Sino-Singapore ties. On the other hand, China’s BRI is a multilevel chessboard. Singapore’s markets and investment climate are attractive to China’s BRI-related outbound investments due to the positive reputation of the island’s rules, laws, arbitration, syndication of loans and syndication for projects. Singaporean firms lend their Chinese partners social legitimacy and political capital in investing across Asia. This presentation examines the uncertain outcomes of these ‘soft strategies’ played by a small state like Singapore.


ALAN CHONG is Associate Professor and Acting Head, Centre for Multilateralism Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore. He has published widely on the notion of soft power and the role of ideas in constructing the international relations of Singapore and Asia. These ideational angles have also led to inquiry into some aspects of ‘non-traditional security’ issues in Asia. His publications have appeared in The Pacific ReviewContemporary Southeast AsiaCambridge Review of International Affairs and the Review of International Studies. He has also edited the book International Security in the Asia-Pacific: Transcending ASEAN towards Transitional Polycentrism (Palgrave, 2018), and served as co-editor (with Faizal bin Yahya) of State, Society and Information Technology in Asia (Ashgate/Routledge, 2014/2015). He is currently working on several projects exploring the notion of ‘Asian international theory’ and has just co-edited a volume with Pham Quang Minh titled Critical Reflections on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (Cham: Springer Nature under the imprint of Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming December 2019). Alan Chong can be contacted at: