Our China-Program took part in the 2018 Asia Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), which was planned as a parallel initiative to the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit, both organized in Belgium this fall. This 12th AEPF aimed at understanding the struggles and resistances triggered by neoliberalism, corporate led globalization and capitalism over the past 20 years in Europe and Asia. Also, it gave the opportunity to the people behind the critiques, strategies and actions to get to know each other and connect with one another.
This year, the Asienhaus China-Program organized an Open Space Workshop together with Transnational Institute (TNI), Global Justice Now and Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization (MSN). This workshop focused on understanding China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) and exploring joint responses. A total of eight panelists were invited to participate to the Open Space event. They introduced the Belt and Road Initiative, the various issues arisen through its projects and discussed their involvement in organizations dealing with specific problems impacted by the BRI, such as “slum-upgrading” in Indonesia or dock workers strikes in Greece.
First, Wen Bo, Board member of the Camel Bell Fund and Stephanie Olinga-Shannon, Transnational Institute fellow, introduced the BRI. Both gave the context and scope of this transnational project, while explaining China’s motivations and approaches to the BRI, and presenting responses from within China.
Afterwards, the first panel gathered Myint Zaw, a Myanmar activist at Paung Ku, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Pakistan Senate Foreign Affairs Committee and Anastasia Frantzeskaki, member of the Greek Federation for Port Employees and the Syriza government’s representative for maritime affairs. All three participants gave insights of their experiences and perspectives on the BRI and their activism, participation and action towards local BRI projects in their own countries.
The second panel focused on specific issues that emerged and were impacted by the BRI. Au Loong Yu, a Hong Kong based political activist and Borderless Movement member, gave his thoughts on the BRICS, the BRI and China’s capitalism model. Nora Sausmikat, our Asienhaus China-Program representative, exposed the projects of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), as well as the issues and struggles met by affected communities. Lastly, Dorothy Guerrero from the UK-based organization Global Justice Now, reported on European responses to the BRI.