The People's Republic of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a policy centerpiece of President Xi Jinping's foreign strategy, is an ambitious aspiration towards expanding regional markets and facilitating regional cooperation. As at July 2019, it was reported that the People's Republic of China had concluded 195 inter-governmental cooperation agreements with 136 countries and 30 international organizations, ranging from Eurasia to African, Latin American, South Pacific and Western European countries. Specifically, the BRI has already given rise to a number of symbolic projects in South-East Asia, such as the construction of the China-Laos Railway, the China-Thailand Railway, and the China-Myanmar Oil & Gas Pipeline.
SIDRA's BRI program aspires to conduct leading research concerning the BRI, and provide a forum for constituencies, such as academics, practitioners, judges, and policymakers, to understand the practical and multi-faceted implications of the BRI on both the domestic and transnational socio-economic and legal planes. The goal is to establish SIDRA as a thought leader and collaborative member of the BRI community which can contribute timely analysis and insights from an Asian perspective on topical issues in the BRI dispute resolution space.
Against this context, SIDRA has a broad-based BRI research agenda navigating between the intersection of substantive laws and the different modes of BRI dispute resolution. By way of specific examples, potential research areas include issues of arbitrability, sovereign immunity, enforcement of court judgments, arbitral and mediated settlement awards, the use of dispute resolution mechanisms and instruments such as international commercial courts, the Singapore Mediation Convention and dispute resolution boards, the use of free-trade agreements and investor-state treaty protections, and conflict of laws issues. A variety of research methodologies, including doctrinal, theoretical, empirical and comparative perspectives, will be employed depending on the specific project at hand.
SIDRA's research will focus pre-dominantly on Asia and ASEAN within which SIDRA is geographically situated. SIDRA's BRI program aims to contribute to global BRI discourse perspectives on complexities that would particularly arise in BRI dispute resolution in Asia and ASEAN. The diversity of the countries in Asia and ASEAN, including variations in terms of economic development strategies, legal systems, language and culture, provides an ample starting point for discussion, reflection and debate on BRI's impact.
SIDRA will also actively explore collaboration opportunities with suitable organisations and visiting faculty to promulgate its activities and research across BRI jurisdictions, including China.