SINGAPORE (May 6): Last week, Chinese President Xi Jinping did some fine-tuning to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) at the global conference in Beijing. All of these changes are designed to accelerate China’s global commercial engagement by making investment activity easier and more transparent. Premier Li Keqiang earlier said that China’s “fundamental state policy” is to open up to the world.

The BRI policy has always championed cooperative involvement, but some countries have been unsure of how engagement with BRI is best achieved. This unfortunately has allowed the opponents of BRI to sow some discord at a national political level. Business sees things differently and has actively encouraged governments at all levels to create better engagement mechanisms by developing a more sophisticated understanding of BRI. Foreign policy approaches to China are to engage, exclude or enrage.

On the one hand, we cannot ignore the tactics applied by opponents of BRI, but on the other, we should be doing our best to develop mechanisms that reduce the impact of these tactics. The clearest current challenge comes from the dominance of the dollarised economy. US President Donald Trump’s threat to deny access to the SWIFT dollar-based foreign currency and trade system for countries and companies that do not comply with the US position on sanctions on Iran is a threat to the world trade order.

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