China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Agricultural Development in Southeast Asia

Wing Lok HUNG, Chak Yan CHANG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review


This paper discusses how China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI) can shed light on the issue of urbanization and agricultural development in Southeast Asia. The BRI is often understood to mean infrastructure projects, such as the building of high-speed railways and modern ports. This inter-pretation does not fully take into account the potential economic prospects between China and the BRI-participating countries. By revisiting Harvard-trained Economist Chang Pei-kang’s pioneering theory on Agriculture and Industrialization, we argue that agriculture rather than urbanization needs to be considered as the foundation for sustainable economic development in Southeast Asia. Advancements in agricultural development through BRI projects will improve not only the livelihoods of rural farmers in Southeast Asia, but also our global ecosystems. Turning the focus to agriculture can assist Southeast Asian countries in exploring their own development paths and avoiding repeated setbacks from fresh financial and global crises.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2230002
Number of pages31
JournalChina and the World : Ancient and Modern Silk Road
Issue number1
Early online date3 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

We are grateful to the China Economic Research Programme (CERP) and the School of Graduate Studies (GS) at Lingnan University, Hong Kong SAR, for their continuing support. In particular, we would like to thank Cheung Yat Yin, Xiao Jijing and Yuan Shiyin for their generous assistance and support with this research. We have benefited from Prof. Alex Yi and Prof. Ho Lok-sang for providing their expert comments on the early drafts of this paper. Serena Chan also drilled into the manuscript and provided very helpful comments and suggestions on various sections. Needless to say, all shortcomings are of the authors alone.


  • China's Belt and Road Initiative
  • Urbanization
  • sustainable development
  • agricultural development
  • Southeast Asia


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