Politics and International Relations
Cross-border exchanges occurred across Eurasia long before China commenced its One Belt, One Road initiative (OBOR). The dynamics of trade and resource flows that transboundary networks enabled were largely outside state control, thriving in the realm of the shadow or informal economy. China’s initiative is a state-driven attempt to facilitate orderly transborder flows of resources across the OBOR space. It could be expected that the implementation of OBOR enables the participating states to extend their control of the shadow economies. This workshop examines emerging institutional settings in the geopolitical space of the New Silk Road. It analyses how the shadow Silk Road is coordinated and governed and seeks to understand instances of “grey governance” and their interactions with state-centred arrangements. These interactions are vital for the perception of the New Silk Road’s connectivity and its further development, beyond China’s state-led investments.
The workshop expands on three themes – i.e. the security of trade routes, transnational governance, and informal or grey governance. Accordingly, it investigates how security issues in the broadest sense reshape the design and implementation of OBOR cooperation. It discusses how the European Commission, individual EU member states, and other Eurasian states respond to OBOR projects and which existing shadow activities run into conflict or are incompatible with official OBOR projects.
In order to study these issues, the four panels of the workshop address interactions between state-led projects, informal actors, transborder networks, and regional institutions. The first panel considers the geopolitics of growing trade linkages across the Eurasian mega-continent. The second panel takes a closer look at the effects of Chinese-led projects that are part of OBOR and responses of local societal, business, and political actors. The third panel focuses on informal practices that facilitate transborder flows, independent of increasing state-to-state arrangements. The fourth panel explores how OBOR reshapes regional governance. The workshop closes with the presentation of a book that scrutinises non-state and informal activities along the New Silk Road. The workshop covers the entire geographical scope of the New Silk Road, stretching from Xinjiang to Europe, and also considers developments in South Asia and Southeast Asia. With its broad range of topics and multidisciplinary perspective, the workshop contributes to ICAS 11’s theme of “Asia and Europe, Asia in Europe.”