Briefing paper

Key points:

  • The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is both a blueprint for a China-centric order in the Indo-Pacific and a means to address internal economic and political challenges.
  • China is not yet capable of leading that order, but its desire to do so is increasing.
  • Prospects for the long-term success of BRI are uncertain, but it will shift regional economic and strategic relationships.
  • Policy flexibility is vital for Australia to successfully navigate the regional changes caused by China’s gamble on BRI.

Policy recommendations:

  • Australia should aim to take an important leadership role within the Indo-Pacific in any new regional order.
  • Australia should seek to build coalitions of like-minded states around specific issues of mutual interest rather than construct new institutions or organisations.
  • Australian policy must be flexible, and prepared, if necessary, to decouple its values from its interests to take advantage of the opportunities that will present.
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