China's initiatives to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st-century’s Maritime Silk Road, known as the "One Belt and One Road" or B&R were put forth by Chinese President Xi Jinping during two separate visits to Central Asia and Southeast Asia in 2013. The Belt and Road Initiative draws on the historical symbols of the ancient Silk Road and the historical memories of economic and cultural exchanges. China hopes to take economic and trade cooperation as the main form and work with relevant countries to build a community of shared interests, destiny and responsibility featuring political mutual trust, economic integration and cultural inclusiveness. Southeast Asia has a very close geographical relationship with China, and the cultures of many Southeast Asian countries and China share similar historical and cultural backgrounds. Since the 1990s, China and Southeast Asian countries have very close economic ties, which determines that Southeast Asia is the key region of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative will have an important impact on the political and economic pattern in Southeast Asia. At the same time, the implementation of this initiative in Southeast Asia also faces political and security challenges.
Xiaoyong Cheng is Associate Professor at School of International Studies, Jinan University, China. His research focuses on Sino-American relations and Asia-Pacific area security structure, and the Political and Economic Influence of "The Belt and Road Initiative" in Southeast Asia.