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  • 2018_12_5_Jones_Zeng_paper_R1

    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Third World Quarterly on 20/02/2019, available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/01436597.2018.1559046

    Accepted author manuscript, 903 KB, PDF document

    Available under license: CC BY-NC: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


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Understanding China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”: Beyond “Grand Strategy” to a State Transformation Analysis

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Third World Quarterly
Issue number8
Number of pages25
Pages (from-to)1415-1439
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date20/02/19
<mark>Original language</mark>English


China’s massive ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) – designed to build infrastructure and coordinate policymaking across Eurasia and eastern Africa – is widely seen as a clearly-defined, top-down ‘grand strategy’, reflecting Beijing’s growing ambition to reshape, or even dominate, regional and international order. This article argues that this view is mistaken. Foregrounding transformations in the Chinese party-state that shape China’s foreign policy-making, it shows that, rather than being a coherent, geopolitically-driven grand strategy, BRI is an extremely loose, indeterminate scheme, driven primarily by competing domestic interests, particularly state capitalist interests, whose struggle for power and resources are already shaping BRI’s design and implementation. This will generate outcomes that often diverge from top leaders’ intentions and may even undermine key foreign policy goals.