Hey Chris, thanks for those responses to my intro questions above. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems as if you came into Asia with a background in business. How did you get started in this? What's your origin story?

Expand full comment

Ok, I'll kick off with some answers to Wade's questions. Please feel free to add to, or ask others.

1) How to get started investing in the Silk Road?

There's three component answers to this question:

a) Travel. Acquire knowledge. just that is an investment, and are experiences and academia you need to have behind you in order to understand what is going on. Travel right now may be difficult, so do online research, and acquire a library. Amazon and Ebay are great resources for inexpensive books, choose your subject and go buy a library. As we're all locked down for while it makes sense to use this time to study.

b) I just wrote three articles this past week about investing in stocks in Belt & Road Countries, these are basically broken down as follows:

* Central Asia: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/04/27/investing-emerging-belt-road-initiative-stock-markets-central-asia/

* Caucasus: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/04/29/investing-emerging-belt-road-initiative-stock-markets-caucasus/

* South-East Asia: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/04/30/investing-emerging-belt-road-initiative-stock-markets-south-east-asia/

c) There are opportunities for foreign investors in China to take advantage of China's just announced 15% profits tax breaks for businesses fitting in with China's Western Regional Encouraged Industry scheme. You can read about that here: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/05/01/15-reduced-profits-tax-rates-preferential-policies-announced-foreign-investors-china-support-belt-road-initiative/

I have written material on how to get involved in Big Ticket investments, including Due Diligence and Joint Venture issues. Ask me questions about that if you want me to provide links.

2) What has been the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Silk Road business? What advice do you have for people running such businesses during this time?

Again, I have covered this very recently here: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/04/24/impact-covid-19-chinas-global-belt-road-project-financing-qa/ and concerning the BRICS nations of Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa here: https://www.silkroadbriefing.com/news/2020/04/13/current-social-economic-impact-covid-19-upon-brics-nations/. My firm produced a complimentary magazine about operating your business during Covid-19 and the steps to take at this time here: https://www.asiabriefing.com/store/book/managing-china-business-crisis-infectious-disease-outbreak.html. It's free, all you need to do is subscribe (also free).

Basically what is happening is an IT enhancement of having staff working securely from home, and having the right tools to do this safely without compromising IP, communications and confidentiality issues. Covid-19 is ushering in more flexible, and permanently applicable office-staff work capabilities and technologies.

3) What are your strategies for learning the business environment in a foreign country?

Immerse yourself in the local culture. That means learning the local language as best you can, and not being afraid to make mistakes. Locals will be more impressed you're making an effort than wanting to criticize. Go to the local museums, read books on the history and culture, and make local friends. Seek out like minded expats. Most expats are frankly horrible people, narrow-minded, jealous and scared. They get drunk at bars and never explore. Steer clear of the bores. Find your own path.

4) What does art and culture have to do with Silk Road investing?

The way people think and behave can be different than you may be used to, so research the culture. See (3) above, but also hang out with liberally minded locals, make friends. Most business magazines feature boring talking heads on their covers, or piles of cash. They have the worst covers ever. My magazines (see www.asiabriefing.com) always feature art on the front covers, firstly because the likes of Elon Musk are weird looking people, but they're also frankly pompous, overbearing twats hooked on overselling their importance. I use art to illustrate the importance of culture in local business environments, not photos of billionaires. Elon Musk and his ilk aren't going to lend you money, or give you any advise. But you might learn something from reading "The Art Of War", "Journey To The West" "Kama Sutra" or "The Brothers Karamazov" among others, and have more fun in doing so. Especially the third suggestion.

5) What are some personal highlights from your years of working on the business side of the Silk Road?

There are several, and hopefully many more to come. Here's a few, listed and answered in the (tongue in cheek, so don't take it too seriously) format of the seven deadly sins:

Pride: Because its cool to be working on something that not many other people can;

Envy: To see our competitors and others look at us and wish they could afford too, or have the time to do it. But they can't. Ha ha ha!

Gluttony: Because one business involving China isn't enough. I have to have two.

Greed: I'm not actually money-motivated, but I am greedy to have new challenges and life experiences.

Lust: I've been wanting to kick the ass of China Law Blog, in the past they have been very unkind to me online. But now their Alexa rankings are half of those we achieve at Silk Road Briefing. Ha ha ha! (again). Yes, it's petty but I don't care....Otherwise, how can we mention lust about the Silk Road without falling in love 15 times a day with all those fantastic looking ladies that live all the way along those countries. Mama Mia! I must belong to about 28 Silk Road dating sites LOL.

Sloth: Well it's hard to be sloth when the Chinese ate them all. But that aside, the Silk Road is so full of vitality - from the ancient romance, to the joys of travel, to making business happen, that there is simply no time to be lazy.

Wrath: Let's depict this as learning to be less wrathful, and more tolerant. I've certainly learned to be more chill and less easily angered while dealing with the Silk Road. Adventures have mellowed my temperament, and made me far more tolerant when the shit hits the fan, and that's a good thing. These days I am more inclined not to let stuff freak me out, or worry about it as much. Travel in places along the Silk Road taught me that. It's hard to be cool or even try to be when a Mongolian horse has just dumped you on your ass. You just have to get back on and do it again.

So those are my replies. Fire away if you wish to ask about those, or have any other questions.



Expand full comment

Thank you for the opportunity to ask questions to Chris - always unique insights!

Which city along the Silk Road would you consider the most attractive place for property investments?

(I understand that you have investments in Yerevan, Armenia. Could you possibly share your experiences, financing terms, return expectations?)

Expand full comment


Is Uzbekistan leading the way regarding political reform on the Silk Road and are there any advantages for investors in countries following the example of Mongolia and becoming more democratic?

Expand full comment

Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your thoughts. As you know, I am interested in the Digital Sill Road and was wondering whether there would be any opportunity for foreign enterprise to invest in this program - particularly into innovation labs?

Expand full comment

My question is not entirely related to investments. How to communicate with the corporate world via the Internet? For example. I found an interesting park in Belarus which is part of the New Silk Road, but having written a letter offering to shoot a video I got a cold reply. Often I get no answers at all. On the other hand, when in Moscow I met a large Japanese company at an exhibition, we got a joint project. It was easy. I have little experience to understand whether it is worth continuing to work with people who do not see the potential for collaboration through the Internet.

Expand full comment

Thanks Chris. Lizzie Collingham’s book is excellent. Very sad news that Fela’s collaborator Tony Allen passed away a few days ago. We’ve had what my daughter calls ‘old man African music’ on a lot In recent days. I recommend the album Tony Allen made with Hugh Masekela called Rejoice.

Expand full comment

Hi Chris, having known you for some 20 years and very much respected your opinions and knowledge I would like to know your thoughts on the recovery timeframes along the Silk Road, primarily on the basis of investment infrastructure and new development. Also, a bit off the primary topic, any foresight into the restaurant and hotel?

Expand full comment

Always good to hear your stories Chris. Your interest and encouragement over the years as we’ve built business and settled in Asia has been greatly appreciated.

Three quick questions for you:

1) If I had $100k to invest and a 5 year horizon what would be a good Silk Road bet?

2) assuming travel restrictions lift - an off beat family holiday destination for Oct (Diwali break)?

3) A recent book (fiction possibly?) set Somewhere along the Silk Road that you’d recommend.

Stay safe


Expand full comment

Hi Wade, thanks for starting this open thread.

Hi Chris, thanks for sharing your advice, I'm already liking the candid nature of the comments and the slightly lighter tone!

The advice to live and experience the culture and history of the markets in which we intend to build businesses in is vital. Having built a career in China and then Singapore over the past 15 years I've leaned heavily on my language skills and experience working in the Chinese mainland and understanding the working culture as a unique selling point to my various corporate overlords...

Now that I'm considering starting my own businesses with special interests in Sri Lanka and several other Belt & Road nations I need to heed that advice and focus on understanding the markets in which I will operate.

Any 'New Silk Road' specific advice that you would give a novice entrepreneur looking to get started?

P.S. I can vouch for the beauty and wonder of Mongolia, God only knows if anyone will make any money there but I count myself as one of many that have fallen in love with the place: courtesy of Chris' introduction to the country 7 years ago.

Expand full comment

I've got information about this new crypto currency. My question now is how can I invest into it? Is it listed among the 2000 digital crypto currencies ?

Expand full comment

Do you see a possibility where the Shanghai STAR market actually grows as an alternative to NASDAQ within the Silk Road realm? Apart from liquidity, NASDAQ offers transparency and access to USD, which is important when raising funds for cross border expansion, among others. Can Shanghai be New York? Without a meaningful and accessible exchange, many ideas will stay on idea level

Expand full comment

Hello Chris.

I hope you're good.

when I, as a specialist in International Law, want to encourage others to think more about China's BRI, I'm worried about the transparency, so I can't advertise about it.

For example, I couldn't find an official website to know EXACTLY what projects are in process in any country and what do they cost.

now, what is your opinion about being or not being transparent of BRI and if you know any website I will appreciate it.


Expand full comment