Politics and International Relations
A China-centred institutional framework to foster the implementation of its new Silk Road or One Belt, One Road initiative (hereafter “OBOR”) is gradually emerging. Three of the most visible examples surround on the European Union (EU) geographically. Besides, they have a great impact on the EU’s ideational position in its periphery and its institutional room for manoeuvre. They recast international cooperation in these regions, as Chinese-led alternative forums emerge or alternate solutions to regional affairs are suggested.
China’s involvement in regional affairs predates the announcement of OBOR, but it was stepped up considerably with this economic diplomacy framework. The regional institutions that this paper studies concern China’s involvement in Africa (FOCAC), central and eastern Europe (16+1), and the Arctic (Arctic Council). China’s efforts to reshape international cooperation in these regions began during different periods of its own economic reform process. Acknowledging this periodization helps explain the differences in approach and pace of activism.
This paper studies these three instances of Chinese efforts to develop or influence institutions in order to advance its OBOR initiative. The paper correlates the political economy of China’s approach to the three regions with the official Chinese construction of the country’s role and interests in the respective regions. The papers seeks to identify narratives that lay the foundation of shadow regimes along the new Silk Road. The paper argues that knowledge of these narratives is vital for understanding and responding to China’s actions and diplomatic phrasing in the shadow of the new Silk Road.