Politics and International Relations
China’s project “Belt and Road Initiative” has attracted worldwide attention and speculation for its geopolitical and economic impacts. Whereas its extensive scale and proposition of new international financial infrastructure reveal China’s ambition to establish a post-Washington global order, it remains unclear how such a process of power shift is perceived, supported or challenged by the various countries involved and their citizens. This panel aims at examining the Belt and Road Initiative from a critical and interdisciplinary perspective by mapping the diversity of regions, actors and networks involved in the project of Belt and Road Initiative. It adresses the following questions :
1. What kind of networks and infrastructure are exactly set up in the individual countries since the project was announced in 2013? Is the new infrastructure in the interest of China only or does it also serve the interests of the host country? Does it benefit local development and small farmers and entrepreneurs or only the interests of big business?
2. How does BRI affect local politics? Does it strengthen authoritarianism and corruption and weaken democracy and inclusiveness? What are the consequences on migration flows? Are we assisting to new flows of Chinese migration in the host countries? How does it impact the policy and attitude of host countries towards non-chinese migrants?? How does the “new” trading routes activate or reactivate existing network of actors, including state enterprises, multi-nation and Chinese diasporas?
3. In addition to its economic, social and political output, what kind of geopolitical stake and alliance are engendered by the BRI project? To what extent, the project may reshape the geopolitical and trading connections between Africa, Europe and South-East Asia? Will the economic alliance forged through the BRI project contribute to the strengthening of China’s normative influence in international politics?
The panel gathers presentations analyzing Belt and Road Initiative’s influence and reception in various regions of the world (South-East Asia, Europe and Africa). Through a cross-regional comparison and inter-disciplinary dialogue, this panel will not only contribute to evaluate the coherence between China’s global ambition and local impact, but also the interaction between China’s hard power (military and economic weapon) and sharp power (ideological influence) in the process of global order change.