State Transformation and China's Belt and Road Initiative

Hu, Ran (2024). State Transformation and China's Belt and Road Initiative. In: Roy, Indrajit; Eckhardt, Jappe; Stroikos, Dimitrios and Davidescu, Simona eds. Rising Power, Limited Influence: The Politics of Chinese Investments in Europe and the Liberal International Order. Oxford: Oxford University Press (In Press).



As China’s presence continues to grow across the world, the concerns with its global presence also increase. The chapter analyses China’s most ambitious plan, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Departing from the assumption that BRI is a coherent and well-thought-out strategy, the chapter investigates its internal politics and presents a full picture of its formulation process from the inside-out perspective of domestic political dynamics. Employing the concept of state transformation characterized by a dialect process of decentralization and recentralization, it finds out that the definition of BRI at the beginning was inconsistent and its practices incoherent, and that BRI was gradually made to be what it is now—a coherent initiative—through a series of recentralizing efforts. The chapter concludes with a reflection on what this inside-out approach to BRI implies about China’s growing power and its impact on the liberal international order.

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