International Law

China’s Belt & Road Initiative: A Critical Analysis of BRI - A 7-part symposium

Fall ’20 and Winter ’21

Committee Sponsor: Belt and Road Task Force

Committee Sponsor: Belt and Road Task Force

About the 7-part Symposium

China’s Belt & Road Initiative is a vast and complex global development strategy involving infrastructure development and investments in well over 100 countries. It includes projects throughout Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the island countries of the Pacific and the Caribbean, and the Americas (Central and South). This massive infrastructure development includes physical entities such as railways, bridges, roads, etc., as well as digital. There is also a geopolitical side to the ambitious economic expansion of China’s “reach” as it seeks to solidify its own supply chains and economically dependent countries in what Beijing perceives as a post-American world.

The American Bar Association’s International Law Section has created this 7 part course designed to provide lawyers with a deeper understanding of China’s Belt & Road Initiative. While each of these 7 programs are valuable as stand-alone programs and can each be attended on that basis, they are also designed as building blocks to provide an important educational foundation for international practitioners going forward. A course completion certificate will be provided for those registrants who attend all 7 programs.*

*A Certificate of Completion for the China BRI Symposium will issued to those attendees who have attended either a live or a recorded version of each of the 7 programs by September 30, 2021 and who so certify their attendance. This is not a CLE series.

Programs and Schedule

There are 7 programs in the symposium.

Suggested Prerequisite:
Symposium or individual program attendees are strongly encouraged to view the foundational program on this symposium (“Understanding China’s Belt and Road Initiative and U.S. Legal and Policy Efforts to Address It “) which was initially offered as a part of the Section’s Virtual Conference on June 18, 2020.

**If you registered for the program on June 18, you may access the on-demand CLE webinar using the original access / confirmation details provided via email. If you did not register for the program, you may purchase access to the program.

The faculty for the various symposium programs will assume attendees already have this foundational understanding covered in this program. All programs will be presented via ZOOM.

1. September 30, 2020: “China’s Global Ambition”
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Committee Sponsor: Belt and Road Task Force

This program examines the shifts in the policy objectives of China’s Communist Party since the Cultural Revolution and how these policy shifts have impacted China’s relationship with the United States. The more recent changes since Xi Jin Ping came to power are emphasized. The program  will lay out not only the policy objectives of the CCP, the attitudes of the leadership towards the United States and the western democracies, but also the tactical means that China has been utilizing to achieve the Party’s objectives. This program will also illustrate how China’s specific economic model serves the Party’s policy objectives so well.

  • Historical perspective on the restoration of the Middle Kingdom to its rightful place following the “Century of Humiliation”
  • What is China’s dual currency system and how does it insulate the economy from outside attacks and forces, like the trade war?
  • Key policy shifts from the “bide your time” era to today’s “wolf diplomats”
  • CCP view promoted in China as to the threat democracy poses to the stability and well being of society
  • Impact of the new Hong Kong National Security Legislation
  • China’s attempts to isolate Taiwan.
  • What are the real, underlying objectives for China’s Belt & Road Initiative? It is a tactical tool for what?

Moderator:

  • David F. Day, Esq., Chair, Belt & Road Task Force, ABA International Law Section

Speakers:

  • Dr. Elizabeth G. Chan, Esq., CEO, Global Risk Mitigation Foundation; Steering Committee for the Central/East Asia & China Committee; and Chair of the ABA Committee on Infrastructure Development Finance, a part of Belt & Road Task Force ABA’s International Law Section
  • Capt. James Fanell (USN Ret.), Former Director of Intelligence and Information U.S. Pacific Fleet
  • Michael Sacharski, Former Senior Executive for GTE China (now Verizon) and a 3+ decade U.S. executive working and residing in the PRC

2.  October 29, 2020:  “The Digital Silk Road – Technology colonization and the U.S. squeeze-out”
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT
 

The Digital Silk Road (DSR) is a subset of the Belt and Road initiative and carries China’s tech sector in a pervasive commercial penetration each of the 100+ BRI countries and it includes virtually every Chinese IT service, platform, option, software and app.  The DSR includes advantageous financing for purchases of Chinese tech equipment and services, including telecommunication equipment, fiber-optic cables, and surveillance systems. How is China’s Digital Silk Road a tactical tool for the CCP and for what objective?

  • What is the Big Data risk for the Host countries along the Digital Silk Road?
  • The Technology characteristics for 5G surveillance enhancement and the AI shaping of public opinion. How are these tech tools ready – built for surveillance and varying types of control?
  • What is China’s strategic plan to surpass the United States as the new  global leader in tech?
  • Where China has control of the internet and communications backbone of country, what are the risks for lawyers and clients operating in such an environment?

Moderator and Program Chair:

  • Geoffrey Goodale, Esq. Partner at Duane Morris, Washington, D.C., Co-Chair of the International Section's National Security Committee and a member of the Belt & Road Task Force.

Speakers:

  • Dr. Jonathan D.T. Ward. Author of "China's Vision of Victory" and an internationally recognized expert on China's global strategy and U.S - China competition. Dr. Ward is the Founder of the Atlas Organization, a Washington, D.C.based group advising firms on China strategy and China-related issues.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Chan, Esq., CEO, Global Risk Mitigation Foundation; Steering Committee for the Central/East Asia & China Committee; and Chair of the ABA Committee on Infrastructure Development Finance, a part of Belt & Road Task Force ABA’s International Law Section

3.  November 18, 2020:
“The Battle of Ideas-The Role of the BRI in China's Political Warfare”
8:00 PM – 9:30 PM EDT

An integral part of China’s Belt & Road strategy involves the countering and shaping of ideas. The sophisticated manipulation of information is utilized to entice membership in the BRI, “sell” projects to the Host country, and engender geopolitical support for China throughout the international community. This program is aimed at developing better understanding of the nature and extent of China’s influence campaigns (often called “political warfare”), which are leveled at not only the U.S. but also those countries Beijing has now persuaded to join the BRI.  This is an especially important challenge for the legal and business communities, as a key weapon in the Political Warfare arsenal is “Lawfare” which being used is to upend the rule of law and concept of human rights as we understand it today.  China’s political warfare is little understood as its matrix is immensely complex and highly deceptive by design.  This program provides an overview of China’s political warfare goals, history, terminology, organization, and sophisticated global operations.  It also addresses steps being taken to counter this malign influence, as well as others that can be implemented.

  • What are the purposes and scope of China’s influence operations?
  • What is China’s capacity to execute political influence or information campaigns?
  • How do you identify a political influence/warfare operation?
  • Recent case studies of Covid-19-related influence campaigns initiated against private sector companies and organizations, national governments, and individual political leaders.
  • How do national governments and private sector organizations counter political influence campaigns?

Moderator:

Speakers:

  • Prof. Kerry G. Gershaneck, Professor and Taiwan Fellow at the National Chenghi University in Taipei, Taiwan. Recognized global expert on Political and Information Warfare and author of the forthcoming book,  “Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to ‘Win without Fighting.’”(Marine Corps University Press, 2020)
  • Dr. Samantha Hoffman - Dr. Hoffman is a Senior Analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra and that organization's Cyber Centre. She is a global expert on China’s technology-enhanced political, social, and influence control efforts.  She has written for Foreign Policy, The Hill, War on the Rocks, The National Interest, China Brief, Forbes, and Jane’s Intelligence Review. She has been widely quoted in the media on China’s security state and politics, including The New York Times, The Economist, BBC, ABC (Australia), Foreign Policy, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Financial Times, Science Magazine, and WIRED.

4.  December 17, 2020: “The U.S. Competitive Response to the BRI – Pushback or too little, too late?”
1:00 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Are you prepared for changes in the rules-based international order and its governing institutions that you are familiar with?  China’s implementation of its Belt & Road Initiative will have a profound impact upon the practice of law, lawyers and their clients in virtually every single field of international-related practice—from international litigation & arbitration to finance and investment, securities, environmental, trade, technology, national security, regional development, human rights, etc.

Are you also ready to advise and prepare your clients for the potential squeeze-out of U.S. and other Western firms from operating in certain international markets which they currently enjoy and blocking still others from even entering new markets in the future?

Do you understand where the response of the United States is to China’s Belt & Road Initiative stands today? There are substantial gaps which may well affect your practice and your clients.

This next program our 7-part symposium looks to developing an understanding of the current status of the competitive response or pushback by the U.S. to China’s BRI on a global scale.  There are a number of complex, legal moves that the U.S. has made over the last 2 years which lawyers in international practice need to be familiar with.

Is there a strategy?

  • What is the U.S. currently doing to offer a competitive response to China’s Belt & Road Initiative and its Digital Silk Road component?
  • What additional steps can the U.S. take to improve its competitiveness with China among the BRI countries?
  • What are the risks and what advice should you consider providing to those clients electing to participate in the BRI?

Moderator:

  • Wade Weems, Esq  - Partner with Kobre & Kim (Shanghai, China) and a member of the Belt & Road Task Force.

Speakers:

  • Dr. Robert Spalding,  BGen, USAF (Ret'd) - former Director of Strategic Planning for the National Security Council and the chief architect for the U.S. National Security Strategy. Dr. Spalding is also a former China strategist for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense Attache to China. He is the author of "Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept."
  • Dr. Elizabeth Chan, Esq. - CEO, Global Risk Mitigation Foundation; Steering Committee for the Central/East Asia & China Committee; and Chair of the ABA Committee on Infrastructure Development Finance, a part of Belt & Road Task Force of the ABA’s International Law Section.
  • William Oberlin - former senior aerospace executive for Boeing and President of Boeing Korea and Chairman of AMCHAM, South Korea.
  • Scott Blacklin - former Vice President – Emerging Markets, Public Sector , Cisco Systems, Inc. and currently working with a consortium of U.S. tech firms in competition with Huawei and other PRC tech firms in BRI developing countries.
  • Paul B. Edelberg -  a partner at Fox Rothschild LLP, New York City, former Co-Chair Central/East Asia & China Committee and a member of the Belt & Road Task Force.

5.  January 27, 2021: “China’s BRI in the post-CoVid- 19 World”
New Time and Day: 2:00 PM – 3:30 PM EDT

Are we witnessing the demise of China’s Belt & Road or a shift in strategy?

This 5th program in the BRI series is the all-important, “out over the horizon” examination that so many in the media, academia, think tanks, analysts, and policy-makers come up short on.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a crippling effect upon many countries, including our own. Many of the developing countries who have joined the BRI are facing economic situations far worse and are now forced to deal with unmanageable China debt burdens. Covid-19’s impact on China’s grand initiative has exposed weaknesses and short-comings after the program’s first five years of operations.  These revelations apply to China itself as well as to each of the BRI host countries.  Lessons learned and changes in the BRI are now underway that will alter the way China offers future BRI offerings as well as change how these offerings are received by client states.

This program focuses on the critical changes in progress and anticipated results that will take place over the immediate next two years 2021 – 2022. You need to understand these developments as they profoundly impact the focus and direction of not only the BRI but China itself from 2023 onwards.

  • Where does China really stand economically in a post-covid world?
  • How leading domestic issues in China the next two years will frame future BRI objectives and implementation.
  • How a growing sense in China is a need to define balance between resources allocated to China’s domestic development with those resources devoted to BRI is impacting the future of the program. Why is that the case?
  • Lessons learned by China and the BRI Host countries that are driving changes in the BRI program.
  • China’s developing new criteria for selecting BRI client state opportunities.
  • The new shape, form and functionality of its grand BRI Initiative.
  • The emergence and promotion of the “Digital Silk Road” as the leader of the many ‘Road’ initiatives and the impact this is having on restructuring China – client state relations.
  • Identification of aspects of the BRI that are NOT changing and will continue to be fundamental program drivers.
  • What is the impact of these changes upon U.S. international business competition with the BRI, trade, and trade policy relations? -  Are there shifts in U.S. strategy mandated by these forthcoming developments in China’s BRI program?

Moderator:

  • Orga Cadet, Esq. - The vice-chair of the National Security Committee and an Associate with Baker & Hostetler LLP 

Speakers:

  • Michael Sacharski, Former Senior Executive for GTE China (now Verizon) and a 3+ decade U.S. executive working and residing in the PRC
  • Elizabeth Donkervoort, Esq., Program Director for East Asia, American Bar Association's Rule of Law Initiative, (ROLI). Formerly the Senior Program ZManager for Northeast Asia at the International Republican Institute based in Hong Kong, overseeing programs in the PRC.
  • Dr. Jonathan D.T. Ward, Author of "China's Vision of Victory" and an internationally recognized expert on China's global strategy and U.S - China competition. Dr. Ward is the Founder of the Atlas Organization, a Washington, D.C.based group advising firms on China strategy and China-related issues.
  • David Day, Esq., Chairman of the ABA International Section’s Belt & Road Task Force, ABA’s International Section and Chairman of the Trade Policy Committee of the National Association of District Export Councils.

6.  January 27, 2021: “The Belt & Road Lawyer”  
New Time and Day: 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT

Conducted as a roundtable discussion between private sector executives in competition with Chinese firms and experienced BRI lawyers, this program addresses many inquiries of members of the Bar seeking to understand more of the nuances and background necessary to more effectively assist clients participating in BRI projects in developing countries or with Chinese SOE firms generally. An important aspect of the program is a focus on the specific skill set that private sector clients need from lawyers practicing in this area or looking to do so in the future. This program also looks at the career preparation important to develop that skill set and then to undertake such representation, as well as to advise BRI Host country governments or government entities.

  • Preparing your client for dealing with a Chinese State-Owned Enterprise (SOE).
  • What do you do if you do not have the Host country experience of expertise?
  • Options for combatting the PRC predatory financing option your client may face
  • Assisting the Host Country BRI client
  • The dispute resolution challenge for clients, whether Host government, or private sector, participating in BRI projects
  • Career preparation and resources

Moderator:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Chan, Esq., CEO, Global Risk Mitigation Foundation; Steering Committee for the Central/East Asia & China Committee; and Chair of the ABA Committee on Infrastructure Development Finance, a part of Belt & Road Task Force ABA’s International Law Section

Speakers:

  • Perry Pe, Esq. - Partner with Romulo Mabanta Buenaventura Sayoc & de los Angeles (Manila) and former President of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association
  • Jonathan Szucs, President, Advanced Superabrasives, Inc., a high-tech firm based in North Carolina and a Boeing supplier that does business in China, throughout Southeast Asia, and elsewhere.
  • Scott Blacklin - former Vice President – Emerging Markets, Public Sector , Cisco Systems, Inc. and currently working with a consortium of U.S. tech firms in competition with Huawei and other PRC tech firms in BRI developing countries.

7.  POSTPONED - April 14, 2021: “The Future of the U.S. China Relationship—Trade and otherwise”

Postponed until further notice

This final program in the Section’s China BRI Symposium will be conducted live at the Section’s 2021 Conference. It explores the varying viewpoints on how the United States might conduct its relationship or dealings with China going forward.

  • “Decoupling” between the U.S. and China’s economies, how far will it go?
  • The concept of a comprehensive trade agreement with China. Is that in the cards?
  • Is there a mechanism that would permit the disparate business norms of the U.S. and other Western countries/firms and China to work more efficiently on an economic or trade basis?
  • What is the role of American “soft power” in the future of the U.S. China relationship or in competing with China?
  • Where does Taiwan fit into both the U.S. China relationship in the future and U.S national security?

Registration Information

Section Member $35
ABA Member rate $50
Non Member $50
per webinar

To register, please click on the titles above.

Sponsorship

Coming Soon!

CLE Information

The content of this program does not meet requirements for continuing legal education (CLE) accreditation. You will not receive CLE credit for attending China’s Belt & Road Initiative: A Critical Analysis of BRI - A 7-part symposium

Contact Us

If you have any questions about the conference, please contact intlawmeetings@americanbar.org or call 202-662-1660.