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Alexander Cooley and Jonathan Hillman – Crony Capitalism along the Silk Road

June 25, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

Watch live on YouTube.


Alexander Cooley, Director, Harriman Institute, Columbia University; Claire Tow Professor of Political Science, Barnard College
Jonathan E. Hillman, Senior Fellow, Simon Chair in Political Economy, and Director, Reconnecting Asia Project, CSIS
Moderator: Nargis Kassenova, Senior Fellow, Program on Central Asia, Davis Center; Associate Professor, KIMEP University


China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), propelled by the government’s will and the allocation of massive financial resources, has been changing the political and economic realities in Eurasia. A lot of money is moving around, creating opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to engage in corrupt schemes. Crony capitalism receives a major boost in the conditions of weak rule of law and lack of transparency and accountability. Thus, along with the transport, trade, investment, financial and people-to-people connectivity, fostered by the BRI, we see the flourishing of connectivity of corrupt elites in China and Eurasia. These networks are not limited to “emerging markets”, but are part of global arrangements facilitating shady deals and money laundering. The discussion sheds light on the shady side of the BRI in Eurasia, along with its actors and mechanisms, and outlines possible ways to improve the governance of investments.

Alexander Cooley is the Claire Tow Professor of Political Science at Barnard College and Director of Columbia University’s Harriman Institute (2015-present). Professor Cooley’s research examines how external actors—including emerging powers, international organizations, multinational companies and NGOs—have influenced the development, governance and sovereignty of the former Soviet states, with a focus on Central Asia and the Caucasus. Cooley is the author and/or editor of seven academic books including Great Games, Local Rules: the New Great Power Contest in Central Asia (Oxford 2012) and Dictators without Borders: Power and Money In Central Asia (Yale 2017), co-authored with John Heathershaw. His new book Exit from Hegemony: the Unravelling of the American Global Order has just been published by Oxford University Press in April 2020.

Jonathan E. Hillman is a senior fellow at the Center for  Strategic and International Studies and Director of the Reconnecting Asia Project, one of the most extensive open-source databases tracking China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Prior to joining CSIS, Hillman served as a policy adviser at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, where he contributed to the 2015 U.S. National Security Strategy and the President’s Trade Agenda and directed the research and writing process for essays, speeches, and other materials explaining U.S. trade and investment policy. He has also worked as a researcher at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, the Council on Foreign Relations, and in Kyrgyzstan as a Fulbright scholar. His book, The Emperor’s New Road, will be published by Yale University Press in 2020.


Cosponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies and the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies.


June 25, 2020
10:00 am - 11:00 am
Event Category:


Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Harvard University
View Organizer Website

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