China's Belt and Road Initiative: Aspirations, Imaginations, and Developments.
Will the Belt and Road Initiative Reshape the Current Global Order? One Initiative, Thousands of Imaginations
Alvin Yang, Ph.D. candidate Political and Social Sciences at Universität Kassel
What is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)? Asking this question is like asking what love is. The BRI means different things to different people. For some, it is China’s Marshall plan, while for others, it is China’s strategy to solve its domestic problems of over-capacity and over-production. Some argue that it is China’s geopolitical grand strategy, whereas some maintain that it is China’s positive contributions to the world by helping others to build infrastructures and investing in other countries. Moreover, some lament that it is a global neoliberal project in the 21st century, while some support it wholeheartedly for they believe that it will bring positive changes in the world, such as connectivity, development and growth. Grounded on international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) theories, this talk explores different imaginations and competing narratives of what the BRI is. Competing IR/IPE theories from both the West and China are applied to reveal and analyse the complexity, multiplicity and plurality of the BRI. For example, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is examined from a multidimensional perspective. Furthermore, this talk examines the potential implications of the BRI for the current and future global order as well as the potential impacts on our life.
Entering the Age of China’s New Mode of International Relations
Roger Greatrex, Professor Emeritus, Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University
This paper takes its point of departure in the following bold assertion made in The significance of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy, which is the second section of an emphatic policy statement made by Foreign Minister Wang Yi on September 1, 2017, titled Forge Ahead under the Guidance of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Thought on Diplomacy: “General Secretary Xi Jinping’s thought on diplomacy […] has made innovations on and transcended the traditional Western theories of international relations for the past 300 years.” Wang Yi did not elaborate on what these innovations are, but in the light of the abandonment of the discrete mode of IR practised by China over the last decades, their thrust has taken on a definite significance. One area may be China’s use of its considerable financial resources to engage in ’overseas land-based investments’, to use a term proposed by Hofman and Ho (2012), and over the last decade these have increased dramatically world-wide, and have become in many instances large-scale. The term ’land grabbing’ has been used frequently to describe China’s actions, and recently an initiative by Chinese investors to acquire water rights in Hokkaido was described as an attempt at ’water grabbing’.
The question this paper raises is whether China’s new mode of international relations can be fairly said to entail ‘land-grabbing’ and ‘water-grabbing’. The question is whether the activities of Chinese enterprises in on-going and proposed ’overseas land-based investments’ in, for example, Japan, Laos, Myanmar, and most recently Sweden, are state-sponsored, state-approved, or entrepreneurial activities without state intervention in any form. Chinese ’overseas land-based investments’ have been made by Chinese national companies linked to the central government, provincial state-owned authorities, as well as by SMEs and financial institutions. Using data from the Land Matrix database, this paper argues the case of whether the new innovations of the BRI may be fairly understood as a new, non-militarized form of colonialism, predicated on non-military overseas land acquisitions.