CONTESTING THE INTERNATIONAL ORDER BY INTEGRATING IT: THE CASE OF CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE
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Contesting the international order by integrating it: the case of China’s Belt and Road initiative

 

What does the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) tell us about China’s perceptions of the international order? This paper takes an inductive approach by examining the BRI for a two-pronged purpose: first, to understand China’s perception of the international order by examining Beijing’s official discourse around its intentions and vision for the initiative; and, second, to examine the mechanisms through which Chinese norms are diffused and normalised in Global South states. I find that Chinese policy navigates a dialectical interchange between upholding the existing international order while simultaneously promoting alternative norms and practices to reform parts of the order that are unsatisfactory to Chinese interests. To answer the second part of the puzzle, the paper finds that a central socialisation mechanism in China’s foreign policy for Global South states occurs through professionalisation training programmes. These programmes allow for Chinese expert knowledge and technical know-how to be shared with and mimicked by elites and civil servants across many Global South states.

Keywords: Chinese foreign policy, Global South, international order, norms, socialisation

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