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China’s Third Belt and Road Forum

The Third Belt and Road Forum (BRF III) convened from October 17 to 18, 2023 with representatives from over 150 countries attending the forum. The forum celebrated 10 years of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched in 2013 and inspired by ancient trade routes. Since its inception, China's infrastructure-centred investment blitz has spanned over 150 countries, stretching from Asia to Africa and on to South America.

The BRF III provided a glimpse of China's future global engagement, likely focusing on smaller projects in developing economies of the so-called Global South, while other countries distance themselves amid high geopolitical tensions. Three high-level forums were held under the topics of Connectivity in an Open World Economy, Green Silk Road for Harmony with Nature, and Digital Economy as a New Source of Growth, respectively. The six thematic forums focused on promoting unimpeded trade, enhancing maritime cooperation, promoting clean Silk Road, strengthening think tank exchanges, enhancing people-to-people exchanges, and strengthening subnational cooperation.





Implications for Higher Education

In addition to infrastructure and trade, the BRI also promotes international cultural exchange and educational cooperation. In August 2023, it was reported by China Daily that China has signed mutual higher education diploma recognition agreements with 24 Belt and Road countries, and Chinese universities have opened campuses in 23 countries. Meanwhile, China’s co-operation with more than 80 countries in the fields of science and technology are leading to joint research projects and the establishment of joint laboratories. China also aims to enhance vocational education cooperation through Luban Workshops and other initiatives.

While it is still too early to gauge the full impact on the UK higher education sector, the BRI may have implications for international student mobility and research collaborations. China's increased focus on the Global South could enhance its appeal as an international study destination for students from these regions. Additionally, partnerships and research collaborations between China and partner countries may incentivize Chinese graduates to look to BR partner countries for further study or employment opportunities.