Both China and Japan have their own ambitious initiative for connecting countries and regions via infrastructure development. The Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade has hosted a public lecture of Mr. Takeshi Miyai, research fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and Think Visegrad visiting fellow on the two countries’ connectivity strategies and their Central and Eastern European (CEE) aspects.
Mr. Miyai shared his perspective on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and highlighted that the BRI is an attempt by China to play a leading role in economic development and integration of Asia in accordance with its growing economic and geopolitical power. He enumerated several concerns regarding the initiative, namely the lack of evaluation mechanism, the unsustainable financing and the overwhelming participation of Chinese contractors. Mr. Miyai also analysed the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy emphasizing that Japan’s initiative builds on principles of ‘quality infrastructure’ development which incorporates – among others – the transfer of know-how and knowledge to local communities and the consideration of social and environmental impacts of projects. The Japanese researcher highlighted that there is plenty of room for cooperation regarding the two initiatives and FOIP could encourage BRI to operate more in accordance with international standards.
As for the relation between CEE and the two countries’ connectivity strategies Mr. Miyai underlined that Japan has little presence in infrastructure development in CEE, however its companies play an important role in the region through greenfield investments. He emphasized the diversity of CEE which means that countries has different priorities and EU member states do not depend so much on resources China or Japan could offer.