Origins and dimensions of the Belt and Road Initiative: Experimental patch-work or grand strategy?

Robert Pauls, Jörn Carsten Gottwald

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The current Chinese government under the leadership of Xi Jinping has been advancing the ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative as a centre piece of its foreign economic policy. The initiative emphasizes outward infrastructure investment projects, with the aim of building ‘a new pattern of regional economic integration’ (Xi Jinping, 25.10.2013). ‘One Belt One Road’ (OBOR) is flanked by initiatives in regional institution building, such as the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. It has also been advertised as a corner stone of domestic economic reform, supporting the outward-orientation of Chinese firms and supporting the economic development of China’s Western provinces. The initiative may thus have the potential to lay the structural economic foundations for the establishment of China as a norm- and rule-making power in (South-) East Asian regionalism. Taking into account the potential significance of this policy-initiative and that the topic is still relatively under-researched the paper will initially take stock of actors and policies involved with the One Road One Belt initiative in South-East Asia in the past three years. In a second step, we plan to evaluate in how far a coherent foreign economic strategy has emerged under the One Belt One Road label, involving a distinct set of foreign and economic policy actors pursuing common interests, or whether it remains a catch-all slogan attached to a range of uncoordinated activities in an attempt by the central leadership to simulate leadership and foreign economic policy coherence. With this, we hope to connect to the wider debate on (South-) East Asian regionalism and Chinese political economy, asking whether the Chinese party-state exhibits the capacity for (in this case, foreign) economic development planning (cf. the Heilmann/Melton – Hu – Naughton debate in Modern China, 39(6)) to create a state-led project of regionalization from above in the region.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationChina’s Global Political Economy
Subtitle of host publicationManagerial Perspectives
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781000031812
ISBN (Print)9781138103733
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes


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