China’s Belt and Road Initiative (hereinafter BRI) – Yi dai yi lu – is Xi Jinping’s flagship foreign policy which brings together the country’s geopolitical and geo-economic aims under the banner of the ‘community of shared destiny of mankind’. Xi’s ambitions to make China a ‘strong and wealthy nation’ under the ‘Two Centennial Goals’, has made the BRI a priority even with the pressures of Covid-19. Industrial policies such as the ‘Made in China 2025’ are important drivers for the BRI, and the country’s drive to ‘realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation’ creates tensions with Xi’s ideas of a ‘green belt and road’ and ‘ecological civilization’. Similarly Xi’s ideas behind ‘community of shared destiny of mankind’ and China’s governance models have challenged the implementation of their ‘digital silk road’. This talk examines the theory and practice in the BRI bringing together findings from fieldwork in Southeast Asia and Europe.
Yuka Kobayashi (LL.B Kyoto, MPhil, DPhil Oxon) is Lecturer/Assistant Professor in China and International Politics at SOAS, University of London, and Visiting Research Professor at Nankai University (China) and Visiting Scholar at the World Trade Organizaton (WTO).