The footprint of the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) spans more than 68 countries, including the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands (Cayman), Ireland, Luxembourg and Jersey. The role that Cayman and BVI already play in the BRI is simply an extension of the dominant role that Cayman and BVI structures presently play in the China growth story.
China’s economic growth is, perhaps, most visibly seen through corporations like the BAT companies, namely Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent. They are no longer just China companies, but instead global companies – all of them are incorporated in the Cayman Islands and internationally listed China operating companies. These global structures embody the essence of what the BRI represents: domestic Chinese capabilities operating on a global platform – in the case of the BRI, Cayman and BVI structures provide that platform, being the bridge connecting China outbound transactions to the wider Asia region, Europe, the Middle East and beyond – enabling BRI infrastructure projects in sectors such as utilities, transport, telecoms, social, construction, energy and the environment to flourish.
A tale of two growth stories. President Xi Jinping’s landmark 2013 address, which set the BRI in motion, has spawned projects including the central government’s plans to invest RMB3.5 trillion (US$0.5 trillion) in railway networks from 2017-2020 connecting 80% of China’s major cities, and the development of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area announced recently by Hong Kong’s chief executive, Mrs Carrie Lam.
It is the China growth story that has driven the BRI. That growth is exemplified by the dynamism of Chinese entrepreneurship that occupies the China outbound venture capital space where Cayman and BVI structures dominate.
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Anthony Webster is a partner at Maples and Calder in Hong Kong, and the firm’s head of private equity practice in Asia. He can be contacted on +852 2971 3001 or by email at email@example.com
Everton Robertson is a partner at Maples and Calder in Hong Kong. He can be contacted on +852 3690 7424 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org