Source: Belt and Road Portal | Updated Jan 5, 2018


Written by TY Chin | Updated Feb 28, 2018

Copyright © 2017 WiseNet Asia Pte Ltd.  All Rights Reserved

Bridging China


Belt and Road Initiative, setting South East Asia region as central Global Value Chain of the future

In 2016, China companies invested US$14.53 billion in countries along the “Belt and Road”; where the contract value for projects along the routes amounted to US$126.03 billion, with a turnover of US$75.97 billion (Source: Ministry of Commerce, China). A large part of the investment is in South East Asia countries that includes Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. From 2013 to 2016, the Belt and Road Initiative has created more than 180,000 local jobs, and paid $1.1 billion in tax to local governments.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is China’s globalization project introduced by President Xi in 2013. It encompasses more than 60 countries, 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of the global GDP. The routes consist of the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” and the “Silk Road Economic Belt”. The Belt is a land route from China’s western region through Central Asia, extending up to North of Europe. The Road consists of shipping lanes from Western Asia, through South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

The plan opens up new market opportunities for companies along the routes, but also comes with complicated risks and challenges.

Economic Belt Map

(Image Source: Maps of world 2017)

Belt and Road benefits China and the countries along the route through shared economic growth. According to the Asian Development Bank, Asia needs to invest $26 trillion by 2030 to maintain its growth momentum. Aside from Singapore, most of South East Asia countries are hampered by infrastructure deficits. China’s investments in infrastructure connectivity will fill in the gaps in economic expectations, and also the possibility of developing the South East Asia region into the centre of a future global value chain.

Asia Infrastructure Development

(Image Source:Asian Development Bank)


Chongqing, the Place for the Belt & Road Project

Chongqing is a key location in the Belt and Road Initiative, where much of the Belt and Road actions are happening through its land, air, water transportation hubs, logistics city and free trade zone. Chongqing is situated on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in western China, linking China to Europe through a network of roads and rails across Central Asia. It is also connected to Southeast Asia through a highway that connects to the port city of Qinzhou in southern Guangxi. The Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe (Yuxinou International Railway) is a 10,000-km-plus rail route stretching from Chongqing to Duisburg, Germany. As at end of 2015, the railway has handled over US $10 billion worth of freight both ways.

Map of Trans-Eurasia Railroad & Schengen Area

(Image Source: USA China Daily)

The Chongqing free trade zone connects the new Silk Road to the Yangtze River. Approved in April 2017, it aims to accelerate development in the western region and also to promote Belt and Road activities.

Chongqing is also the base of China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiatives on Strategic Connectivity, in short, Chongqing Connectivity Initiative (CCI). Launched in 2015, this is the third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, and a linchpin of the Belt and Road Initiative. Four areas of collaboration between the two countries are financial services, aviation, transport & logistics, and information & communications technology.

Under the CCI initiative, a total of US$3.22 billion financing deals have been signed as at the end of 2016, leading to savings of RMB 152 million for Chongqing businesses. Through Chongqing, Southeast Asian companies can expand into Western China; likewise through Singapore, Chinese companies can venture into ASEAN (Source: Ministry of National Development, Singapore)

Chongqing is positioned to be a major port for inland logistics that connect to international routes.  Under the CCI Transport and Logistics Master plan, the Chongqing Logistics Development Platform (CLDP) and the Multimodal Distribution and Connectivity Centre (DC) are rolled out in Feb 2017. The CLDP is set up to do logistics planning and develop standards for the transport and logistics industry. The DC is a logistics hub that caters to different transport modes, such as river, rail, air and road.

The Challenges

Alongside the encouraging developments thus far, there are also gaps to market entry and business growth in the form of various risks and challenges. The gaps must be addressed as failure will have a multiplying effect on the business entities and the bank that financed the project.

Economic and Political Risks
Countries along the Belt and Road are vastly diverse with various ethnics, cultures and languages. Many countries have their own risk profile. On the macroeconomic level, political controversies in some South East Asia countries have undermined investors’ confidence, prompting prolonged exchange-rate volatility. Other risk factors include volatile energy prices, natural catastrophes with flood and drought, and security with the threat of terrorism and violent demonstrations.

In foreign trade, China has implemented capital control measures earlier in 2017; however, the control is not applicable for China companies participating in the Belt and Road initiative. The projects in Belt and Road are approved by various government agencies and state enterprises. Hence, within the government offices, there should be people who are experienced with due diligence and risk assessments in international projects. The implementation of control measures starts from top down. Approval of the wrong projects could cause taxpayers money for the mistakes.

Singapore, being a global trade and financial centre, is the most stable in the region, yet it faces the problem of low birth rate whereby fertility ranks last among 224 nations in a study by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. This poses the risks of impending economic growth and tax revenues.

Labour Risks
Malaysia economy’s manpower needs over the past decade has been largely supported by foreign labour taking up jobs that the locals will not do. Foreign labours are consistently at a shortage. However, the government has implemented measures to reduce reliance on them, resulting in higher operational costs for companies who have to import skilled labours.

Risks face by China companies investing abroad
More than $250 billion in China’s overseas investments failed between 2005 and 2015, according to the China Global Investment Tracker.

A research report by the Centre for China and Globalization points out that for China companies expanding in the belt and road routes, their main concern is political risk whereby two thirds of the sixty over countries have debts burden classifying them below investment grades.

Other challenges encountered by Chinese enterprises investing overseas include low participation in existing international standard establishments, lack of professional managers with international experiences, miscommunication between Chinese enterprises and international Non-governmental organizations, misunderstanding of foreign trade unions, difficulties in promoting Chinese brands internationally, and low ability in facing legal and political risks.

Detrimental effects of poor investments
Poor infrastructure investments that end up as white elephant or abandoned projects cost more over the long term, incurring interest payment and underutilization cost. The risks commonly associated with megaprojects are overrun in timeline and budget. Bent Flyvbjerg, the most cited scholar in the world in megaproject management at Oxford’s business school, estimated that nine out of ten megaprojects go over budget. The cost overruns anything between 50% and 1900%. One example of failed megaproject is the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, which became a contributing factor to Greece debt default in 2011. In such instances, governments with tax payers’ money will have to pay for the failed projects.

International Arbitration in ASEAN
With the risks associated with going global, disputes between business partners are also inevitable. Arbitration is one way to resolve high value cross border disputes. The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) are the two most popular jurisdictions by numbers of cases handled. Other centres include The China International and Economic Trade Arbitration Commission and The Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA).

According to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) 2015 Report, Singapore has been the number one seat of ICC arbitration in Asia for five years running, as well as being  the fourth most preferred seat globally.  The other two dispute resolution institutions in Singapore are the Singapore International Mediation Centre (SIMC) and the Singapore International Commercial Court (SICC).

In Jan 2018, China announced the formation of three arbitration courts dedicated to settling Belt and Road disputes.  The headquarter is located in Beijing, the court in Xian would settle commercial disputes in the land routes (Belt), and the court in Shenzhen would focus on disputes in the sea routes (Road).  According to Xinhua News, the new institutions will be based on Beijing’s existing judiciary, arbitration and mediation agencies.

Despite the growing popularity, arbitration has its challenges and disadvantages. According to Matthew Gearing of Allen & Over:
– there is a propensity for court intervention in certain Asian jurisdictions;
– courts in certain jurisdictions have refused to enforce arbitral awards on grounds which go beyond the terms of the New York Convention; and
– the pool of suitably experienced arbitrators based in the region is comparatively small compared to Europe.

Navigating through the gaps of doing business in Belt and Road

The challenges are real, so are the vast market opportunities. Even though it is impossible to completely work out all the major risks with their subsets of secondary risks, it is still viable to navigate through the right framework and strategy in both government and private sectors, driven by one common agenda.

As a safety measure, a third party business and HR advisory with links in China and trading countries helps to shorten the learning curve. They can assemble a team together, cut through the noise on cultural gaps and cushion on tensions when it arises. An advisory body works out the teething problems in the starting phase and is part of the implementation team. Aside from facilitating cross border collaboration, their role is to minimize costs from mistakes.

Once the link is established, there needs to be human capital that can deliver long term business objectives and also contribute to social and economic growth of the area. Mega projects could take up to 10, 20 or even 30 years to build; therefore there needs to be a committed team with long term vision. Also, the steering team needs to work hand in hand with local authorities to drive social benefits for the area. This includes control of air pollution and waste management.

Best Practices
On the state level, state administrative bodies need to establish one set of common quality standards and best practices in each sector of cooperation, and monitored by a joint management body. An example of this is the Chongqing Logistics Development Platform set up to develop standards and best practices for the transport and logistics industry.

Collaborative risk management between government and private enterprises; rather than a one sided approach is more efficient as each side has their own authority and expertise that can be utilized when faced with different type of challenges.

Final Thoughts

The Belt and Road projects may mean different things to different companies; but undoubtedly, it is an economic growth engine that will develop emerging markets in Asia as centre of global value chain in the near future. As companies’ growth hit a bottleneck; there are always opportunities outside their existing market. Navigating the gaps of growth might seem challenging, but when done with the right timing, speed, agility and high standards, the rewards are priceless.


Ministry Of Commerce,PRC. (2017). MOFCOM Department Official of Outward Investment and Economic Cooperation Comments on China’s Outward Investment and Cooperation in 2016 -.

James Griffiths, C. (2017). Just what is this One Belt, One Road thing anyway?. [online] CNN. Available at: (2017). Minister Lawrence Wong’s Interview with Xinhuanet Prior to Attending Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on 13 May 2017.

Burgess, M. and Foley, M. (2017). Belt and Road Investors See Opportunity in China Capital Limits. [online] Available at:

O’Callaghan, J. (2017). Tiny Singapore risks economic gloom without big baby boom. [online] Reuters. Available at:

Lynn, J. and Marcelo, C. (2017). IBA – Borderless Asia: international arbitration and its role in ASEAN integration – Asia Pacific Regional Forum, December 2015. [online] Available at:

The Economist Intelligence Unit. (2017). Prospects and challenges on China’s ‘one belt, one road’: a risk assessment report

Shi, T. (2017). Chinese Firms Wary of Political Risks on Xi’s Belt and Road. [online] Available at:

Blue Book of Chinese Enterprise Globalization. (2017). Beijing: Center for China and Globalization, pp.3-6.

Flyvbjerg, Bent, What You Should Know About Megaprojects and Why: An Overview (April 7, 2014). Project Management Journal, April/May 2014.

ICC – International Chamber of Commerce. (2018). ICC report confirms Singapore as a leading Asia arbitration hub – ICC – International Chamber of Commerce. [online] Available at:

Chandran, N. (2018). China plans to create new international courts, and that has a lot of people worried. [online] CNBC. Available at: (2018). Launch of the Singapore International Commercial Court. [online] Available at:

Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not represent Wisenet Asia Pte Ltd.

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WiseNet Asia (Chongqing) Co Ltd was invited by Chongqing Provincial Human Resources and Social Security Department to attend a feedback session on 8 November 2017 to discuss on talent attraction policies & issues for Chongqing.  Attending the meeting were policy makers from the Human Resources and Social Security Department, major universities in Chongqing, state owned companies from Chongqing, local private enterprises and key human resources companies, including WiseNet Asia.

The agenda of the meeting was to discuss on ideas to attract talents to Chongqing and build Chongqing into a competitive talent city.

At the meeting, current challenges and difficulties faced by universities and enterprises in attracting talents to work in Chongqing were being raised and discussed.  Suggestions and ideas on what the government could consider were being raised up.

Karen Woong, General Manager of WiseNet Asia Chongqing Branch, shared Singapore’s international talent policy.   She also shared on the major factors affecting the decision of talents in relocating to a foreign city.  As a headhunting company which has assisted numerous companies in international talent recruitment,   Wisenet Asia understands the needs and what these talents look for, including salaries, benefits, security, spousal relocation, children’s education, quality of life in the destination city, etc.

We trust that with Chongqing’s determination, it will achieve its goal in being a talent-friendly city where talents from all over the world will be able to develop their careers and enjoy their stay.

Written by TY Chin Copyright © 2017 WiseNet Asia Pte Ltd.  All Rights Reserved In the next three years, the Chongqing aviation industry will see massive growth through the development of an Aviation Economic Demonstration Zone. The zone will house an aviation economic ecosystem that consists of aircraft manufacturing, aircraft supporting industries, logistics and various intelligent manufacturing […]

Updated 7 Oct 2018

Written by TY Chin
Copyright © 2017 WiseNet Asia Pte Ltd.  All Rights Reserved

10facts bri1

1. Objectives

For Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or One Belt One Road (OBOR) Countries:  China led shared economic growth through joint infrastructure developments and trade connectivity.

For China:  New markets for China products; exporting of China’s engineering and technology expertise, drive growth in the hinterlands.

2. Coordinating Government Agency

National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s premier economic planning agency.

3. The Routes

Silk Road Economic Belt consist of three land routes from China’s western region through Central Asia, extending up to North of Europe.

21st Century Maritime Silk Road consists of two shipping routes from Western Asia, through South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

4. Coverage

3 continents – Asia, Europe and Africa, 68 countries, 1/3 of the world’s GDP and 62% of the global population.

5. Common Traits of Belt and Road Countries

  • Belt and Road countries in Asia are mostly emerging economies with infrastructure deficits, except Singapore.
  • Suppliers of natural resources.

6. Major Beneficiaries

Banks in ASEAN, large scale infrastructure and townships developers, construction companies, construction engineering machineries, building materials, marine projects, water and power installations.

7. Financiers

  • China Policy banks: China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (EXIM).  Both have extended $200 billion loans in Belt and Road projects as at 2017.
  • Multilateral development banks: Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), New Development Bank (NDB). AIIB was set up specifically for funding infrastructure projects, it has a registered capital of $100 billion with 56 members countries.  ADB’s key mission is to eliminate poverty.  Southeast Asia and South Asia are major destinations for ADB’s lending.
  • Funds: Silk Road Fund. Renminbi Overseas Funds and China-Russia Development Fund.  The Silk Road Fund was launched in 2015 with $40 billion of initial capital.

8. Flagship project

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a massive infrastructure development program in Pakistan.  Started in 2013, the CPEC is budgeted to cost USD62 billion.  The project is estimated to create 2.3 million jobs between 2015–2030, and add 2 to 2.5 percentage points to the country’s annual economic growth.

9. China Outward Direct Investment in ASEAN

(in million US$)


10. Future of Trade in ASEAN

  • Internationalisation of RMB as OBOR countries increasingly used RMB for transactions.
  • Reduce trade barriers.
  • Shifting the global economic centre of gravity.

Disclaimer:  The opinions in this article are those of the authors and do not represent Wisenet Asia Pte Ltd.


WiseNet Asia. (2017). China Insight: Bridging the gaps between China and Foreign Investments in Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) – WiseNet Asia. [online] Available at: (2017).

The Belt and Road Initiative | HKTDC. [online] Available at: (2017).

The World Factbook — Central Intelligence Agency. [online] Available at:

Navigating Asia Pacific, China’s One Belt & One Road Initiative. (2017). 1st ed. CIMB, p.58. (2017). China–Pakistan Economic Corridor. [online] Available at: (2017). China encircles the world with One Belt, One Road strategy. [online] Available at:

(“ASEANstats Official Web Portal”, 2018)

WiseNet Asia was present at the 2017 Western Human Resources Services Expo (2017西部人力资源服务展览会)on the 24th of August to sign a MOU with Chongqing (North) Human Resources Company. We also set up a booth at the exhibition space for HR professionals and senior management team to find out more on our HR service offerings.

Check out our photos on the 2017 HR Expo below.

MOU exhibition boothexhibition


Written by TY Chin
Copyright © 2017 WiseNet Asia Pte Ltd.  All Rights Reserved


Chongqing, the Investment Hot Spot in China

(Image Source: China Tour Map)


For companies that are looking to increase market size in the same region without high investment costs, Chongqing is gaining popularity with its large market size, gateway positioning, local government incentives, bilateral trade deals and strong local infrastructure development.

Chongqing is around 4 hours of flight from major South East Asia cities.  It is a municipality under the direct control of the central government.  The other three municipalities are Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.  In terms of market size, Chongqing is the most populous municipality with over 30 million people.  Its gross domestic product is 11% year-on-year, the highest among Chinese cities, provinces and municipalities.  In the last few years, it has developed into a high growth engine for the western region inland market.


China GDP by Cities 2015

(Image Source: China Internet Watch)


The 13th Five-Year Plan

The Chengdu-Chongqing region is one of the city clusters identified under China’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016 – 2020) for economic and social development. Chengdu and Chongqing are the two largest business cities in Southwest China. This city cluster consists of 11 cities and over 40 million residents.   The five year plan also includes the mandate to accelerate the development of the Wuhan and Chongqing shipping centers in the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze.

City cluster is an urbanization growth strategy.  It is a clustered geospatial layout driven by principal cities, and supported by small and medium cities linked by commuting corridors.  By leveraging on the advantages of a combined cluster, economies of scale are created together with job opportunities. For ease of doing business, operating from city clusters enable companies to serve a larger market from a smaller location with lower operational cost.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

Chongqing is a key inland transportation hub for the Belt and Road Initiative.  The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s globalization project introduced by President Xi in 2013.  It encompasses more than 60 countries, 4.4 billion people and up to 40% of the global GDP.  The routes consist of the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” and the “Silk Road Economic Belt”.  The Belt is a land route from China’s western region through Central Asia, extending up to North of Europe.  The Road consists of shipping lanes from Western Asia, through South East Asia, Africa and Europe.

Chinese Government Economic Projects

(Image Source: 恩典在线; Translated by WiseNet Asia)


Geographical Advantages

Chongqing is situated on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, the longest river in Asia.   Its location in the Yangtze River economic belt is intersectional with the transcontinental sea and land routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.  This geographical advantage has made Chongqing a major hub in Eurasian logistics and connectivity, where much of the Belt and Road actions are happening.

The China-Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiatives on Strategic Connectivity (CCI), the third government-to-government project between Singapore and China, is a major South East Asia trade deal and part of the bigger Belt and Road Initiative.  From its inception in Nov 2015 until end of 2016, a total of US$3.22 billion financing deals have been signed.  The major areas of collaboration are financial services, aviation, transport & logistics, and information & communications technology.

Chongqing is an air gateway to the world with the seventh largest airport of China.  For local transportation, the road and rail networks enable travelling time of 4 hours to the counties belonging to Chongqing, and 8 hours to the cities around Chongqing.  Chongqing is connected to Southeast Asia through a highway that connects to the port city of Qinzhou in southern Guangxi.

Chongqing Logistics City (Chongqing Western Logistics Park) aims to connect Chonqing to Asia Pacific and Europe.  It is a RMB 111.7 billion investment with 4 international routes and 5 domestic routes.  From it’s rail terminal, the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe (Yuxinou International Railway) is a 11,179 km rail route stretching from Chongqing to Duisburg, Germany.  It takes an average of 14 days to reach Duisburg from Chongqing, compared to the 36-day container sea transport time.  On May 2017, an extension to the Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe route, the Chongqing-Guangxi-Singapore express was launched.  The Chongqing-Guangxi-Singapore connects inland China with coastal areas in Guangdong and Guangxi, and Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East and Africa by means of combined railway and sea transport.  In the same year, a free trade zone has commenced operations in the Logistics City.  With its favourable business policies and free trade status, the free trade zone aims to be a main hub of Belt and Road activities.

Chongqing Industry Park of Human Resources Services

Chongqing Industrial Park of Human Resources

Reception Area (Image Source: 重庆晨报)


Aerial View HR Industry Park

Aerial View (Image Source: 重庆晨报)


Recognizing talents as a key driver to growth, the Chongqing’s Industry Park of Human Resources Services is a RMB 20 billion, 158 acres industrial park that aims to be the centre of human resources solution for the western region.  The industry park will be the base of human resources companies that provide talent recruitment, learning and development, expatriates work permit services and other HR services.  The park’s operating model is an internet platform that provides for various talents solutions in Chongqing.  The City Council is also in the same location, providing the public services of overseeing workers’ social security, facilitating employment and entrepreneurship, providing vocational training and so on.  Being in close proximity enables closer working ties between the State authority and private HR companies.

In 2013, the city has a total of 265 human resources service agencies, employing 8819 people, with a turnover of RMB 10.4 billion. In a short period of 3 years, as of the end of 2016, the number of human resources agencies has grown to 1042 in total, employing 20373 people, with turnover of RMB 22.54 billion.  The strong growth in the HR industry reflects economic growth that is set to continue with ongoing push factors.

Final Thoughts

For the year 2016, China’s GDP grew 6.7%, the slowest in 26 years.  On the contrary, Chongqing continue to be the fastest growing major city with year on year growth of more than 10%.

Chongqing’s economic growth engine is running strong, propelled by government policies, bilateral trade deals and geographical advantages.  In particular, it’s bilateral trade deals have given favourable trade position for companies in South East Asia.


This article was last edited on 22nd August 2017.


The 13th five-year plan for economic and social development of the People’s Republic of China. (2017). Chongqing. (2017). Welcome to Chongqing Western Logistics Park. (2017). 西部第一家!重庆有个辐射全国的”人才聚宝盆”.

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WiseNet Asia’s Executive Director, Mr Wesley Hui attended the 2017 Chongqing FTZ Development Summit held on 7 July 2017.
The summit, was one of the first official event to kick-start Chongqing district government’s plans in focusing on the development of regional economic development.
For a start, the summit’s theme was centered “Questions on the Free Trade Zone”, involving a guests speakers from Singapore, Chongqing and Shanghai – as well as a panel of expertise to facilitate the discussion.

WiseNet Asia Executive Director, Mr Wesley Hui, together with event partners and speakers, at the Chongqing FTZ Development Summit

WiseNet Asia Executive Director, Mr Wesley Hui, together with event partners and [speakers, at the Chongqing FTZ Development Summit [Photo Credit: CRJ Online]

For full article details (in Chinese), click here.

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巍星 - 跨国人才以后来渝更方便



WiseNet Asia’s Executive Director Wesley Hui speaks to Chongqing Morning Post reporter Li Shengbin on how the company can help to bring in executive talents from overseas into Chongqing.

Read the article in Chinese here.

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WiseNet Asia was invited to speak and attend the 2016 China HR Expo in Chongqing.
The main topic was on the use of Cloud Technology, and how it will shape the future of HR and its policies.

The event, held at Chongqing Industry Park of Human Resources Service, attracted more than 500 HR professionals.
Our director, Mr Koh Yoke Hui addressed the crowd on the importance of career transiting employees as well as executive coaching – and how HR practitioners should prepare for the upcoming changes ahead.

More details on the event can be found on the event organiser site here.