The ambitious Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) has sparked a variety of reactions among governments throughout the regions encompassed by the initiative and by external commentators and analysts. In the main, there have been three major interpretations of BRI. The first view holds that BRI is driven by Beijing’s geopolitical goals to break perceived U.S. “encirclement” in the Asia-Pacific and constrain the rise of India.A second view emphasizes the economic underpinnings of the initiative. Here, BRI is seen as a direct outgrowth of China’s economic travails after the global financial crisis, notably its long-standing desire to redress economic imbalances between its coastal and interior provinces and to find outlets for excess production capacity. In this view, geopolitical gains that may come from the success of BRI are welcome but of secondary importance. Finally, others have pointed to BRI as an outgrowth of Beijing’s increasing desire to augment its growing economic and strategic influence with a “soft power” narrative that presents China as an alternative leader to the global hegemony of the United States.
No 24, July 2017
‘The National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and The Australian National University’