Anja Mihr, Brigitte Weiffen | 2023

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Curse or Blessing for Democracy in Eurasia?

In: Securitization and Democracy in Eurasia, pp 245-254.

China’s New Silk Road Initiative (the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI) has been spinning its logistical and infrastructural web around the world since 2013. Massive infrastructural investments in railway tracks and roads, as well as in logistical centres and the agricultural and energy sectors, have been made in over 50 countries in Eurasia, spanning from China across Central Asia to Western Europe. We intentionally use the term “Eurasia” which, in line with Maçães (2018, p. 185), expresses a fundamental ambiguity: On the one hand, it might refer to a third continent carved out of the large landmass between Europe and Asia. On the other, it suggests the existence of a supercontinent encompassing Europe, Asia, and everything in between. As the name change from the initial “One Belt, One Road” to “Belt and Road” suggests, what is being planned are in fact many belts, roads, corridors, and infrastructure projects. Though the initial focus of the BRI has been on China’s immediate neighbourhood, Europe constitutes its final goal, as suggested by the reference to the Silk Road, the ancient trade network linking the Atlantic to the Pacific (Maçães, 2018, p. 135). The BRI is a central component of Chinese investment policies that have affected core public policy areas in over 100 countries in the world. Almost a decade after the official launch of the BRI, this Special Section of this year’s volume on Development and Transformation of the OSCE Region assesses the BRI’s political implications.

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