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​NCPA Webinar Series: Globalisation vs De-globalisation: The Belt and Road Initiative in Post-COVID-19 ASEAN

Published on: 16-Jul-2020

COVID-19 has affected the world in an unprecedented way. Not only has it cost hundreds and thousands of lives globally, exposing the weaknesses of national healthcare systems worldwide, it has also caused significant disruption to economies and societies.

Against this backdrop, the Nanyang Centre for Public Administration (NCPA) of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), in collaboration with Lianhe Zaobao (联合早报), Singapore's Chinese-language newspaper, jointly organised a webinar on 16 July 2020 to discuss China-ASEAN post-pandemic cooperation within a more inclusive BRI framework that is better equipped to deal with economic shocks and mitigate impacts on public health, trade, and travel. 

The first in a series of NCPA webinars, the forum was conducted in English and Mandarin and simultaneously interpreted. It was moderated by Ms Lee Huay Leng, Head of Chinese Media Group, Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. The speakers were Ms Tin Pei Ling, CEO of Business China Singapore and Singapore's elected Member of Parliament; Ms Kulthirath Pakawachkrilers, CEO and Co-Founder of Thailand e-business Centre; Dr Ma Rongbao, President of CICC Techgin Investment (CTI) Fund, China International Capital Corporation (CICC) Limited; and Dr Zhang Monan, Senior Fellow of China Centre for International Economic Exchanges. The forum attracted close to 400 local and international participants from various sectors.

Professor Liu Hong, Director of NCPA, commenced the session with an opening speech thanking the participants for attending NCPA's first webinar series, emphasising on the need to study and develop research of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) collaboratively from the perspectives of Singapore and ASEAN. 

After a brief introduction by the moderator Ms Lee Huay Leng, Ms Tin Pei Ling proceeded to share her insights on how BRI would bring about new cooperation opportunities and domains for Singapore and China after the pandemic. She suggested food security, supply chain and enhancing Digital Silk Road interconnections as possible new areas for collaboration.

The second speaker, Dr Ma Rongbao, shared his perspectives on China-ASEAN industrial cooperation in the context of the global epidemic. He pointed out that China and ASEAN had established inter-dependency in the industry chain, and therefore decoupling will be costly for all parties. 

Following Dr Ma's speech, Ms Kulthirath Pakawachkrilers spoke on Thailand's 'new normal' and e-trading opportunities among China-ASEAN post-Covid-19, and how retailers and enterprises in Thailand had to be innovative in establishing new collaborations in e-commerce to sustain their businesses. She also reiterated that Thailand should leverage opportunities offered through the Digital Silk Road and the need for ASEAN to work towards enhancing the digital ecosystem.

The final speaker, Dr Zhang Monan, spoke on the acceleration of BRI development and Asian economic trade cycles in the post-pandemic era. She stated that in view of the major changes in global economic and trade landscape due to worsening US-China relationships, regional integration in Asia would usher in a greater space in the post-epidemic era.

After Dr Zhang's speech, Ms Lee led the speakers in a session of fruitful and insightful question and answer discussion. The webinar ended on a high note with Ms Lee representing both NCPA and Lianhe Zaobao in thanking the speakers for their time and invaluable insights.

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