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Browsing by Author "Xu, Yan"

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  • Xu, Yan (2020)
    This thesis describes and analyses a fairly recent phenomenon – the Belt and Road Initiative, ie the initiative of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. As a new form of international cooperation introduced by Chinese government in 2013, the initiative was created in response to complex international, regional and domestic situations. The first and second chapters are intended to give a brief introduction to the initiative, including the background, research questions, structure of the thesis, author’s motivation for this study, the historical reference, recent history, et cetera. The third chapter looks into the existing instruments and institutions under the initiative and attempts to explain its architecture, following which the fourth chapter tries to understand the initiative from an institutional and normative point of view, and the fifth chapter sums up this thesis. The initiative has a historical reference to the ancient silk road, both overland and maritime trading routes which facilitate the exchange of goods, information, technologies, ideas between the countries along the routes. Beyond the literal meaning, the initiative extends its wishes to carry on “silk road spirit” that passed from generation to generation in history. While the initiative envisages such a connectivity network, it is more a corollary of the unique development path of China, particularly since it started to “open up” itself to the world, as led by the its renowned “reform and opening up” policy in 1978. Around forty years of economic reform gives rise to China’s increase influence in the globe. The reform as started in economic sphere was later expanded to politics, culture, society and ecology. Shortly following Xi Jinping arising as China’s latest paramount leader, the initiative was announced, then further developed in the subsequent years. The Belt and Road initiative is established by two speeches of Xi Jinping in Kazakhstan and Indonesia, and it comprises a wide range of policy instruments, commonly including, policy orientation or proclamation papers formulated by China’s communist party. These policy instruments largely reflect the objectives of the initiative and actions China takes to achieve such vision. Furthermore, local provincial governments’ responses to the “vision and actions” of the central government of China, together with China’s policies concerning the outbound and inbound investment, are regarded as part of the policy instruments used under the initiative. From a global perspective, China engages with other states and organizations on cooperation within the framework of the initiative through memoranda of understanding, which are not intended to give rise to rights and obligations under international law. Joint statements are also commonly used for the promotion of the initiative, as part of a bigger picture of China’s bilateral relationships with other states. It is difficult to define the initiative in that the above instruments are policy-oriented and are not intended to delimit its scope (but to promote the initiative and facilitate the implementation of the initiative). As it is created to serve as a model of international cooperation, it is thus compared with formal organizations. A preliminary conclusion is reached under the thesis that the initiative is essentially different from formal organizations and loosely connected with the international legal community – it is a sort of spoke-and-hub network that is informal, flexible and inclusive. It is also explored briefly that such informal network actually reflects China’s wish to establish an alternative model of international cooperation due to its unique political and economic system (socialism with Chinese characteristics) that fundamentally differs from the liberal international system in a Western sense.