Politics and International Relations
China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has extended out to Southeast Asia, Russia, Central Asia, Europe and beyond. A common approach to understanding China’s BRI is to portray it as a fixed grand strategy to restructure world order to which other countries must adapt. This panel examines the BRI as an interactive process, more tentative and negotiated.
Each of these regions has responded both positively and hesitantly to the BRI. This process of initiative and response has led to a continuously changing identity for the BRI as different constellations of domestic actors in China and in the host country vie to benefit from the initiative, and subsequently change the content of the BRI.
Theoretical approaches that capture this dynamic include examining: domestic sources of a host country’s foreign policy; domestic-external linkages in policies toward BRI; a Second Image Reversed approach as international factors influence domestic policy or possibly intervene in the host country’s domestic politics; and a Two-Level Game where international negotiations between states are conducted simultaneously with negotiations within nation-states between different domestic actors.
This panel includes presentations on various countries responses to BRI that have altered its trajectory: the domestic politics of Malaysia’s response to BRI; Russian challenges to BRI and Central Asian skeptical responses; the Visegrad countries’ diverging responses to BRI due to differing expected benefits; the American response in the form of an alternative regional strategy, the Indo-Pacific Initiative, based on concern that BRI would displace the liberal world order; and a paper on how Beijing adapts to each host country’s strategies for managing the BRI, or at times, fails to adapt.