Europe and the challenge of the Belt and Road Initiative

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Abstract

In ancient times, the old Silk Road was the route for travellers and goods that linked China with Europe. Although connections were disrupted for many centuries, the economic transformation of the People's Republic of China (hereafter PRC or just China) over the past four decades has not only re-ignited the interest of he world in China but also led to the re-invention of those Silk Road connections. Since 2013, when Chinese president Xi Jinping launched the 'One Belt, One Road' (OBOR) initiative, now renamed in English as 'the Belt and Road Initiative' (BRI), the world has been watching how this ambitious infrastructure and connectivity plan to improve networks and communications across the Afro-Eurasia areas would develop and impact the world. European businesses, cities and states have been drawn into these endeavours as it became clearer that Europe would become the end point of this project. However, the BRI has become a subject of controversy both within target states and in the wider global context. Within Europe, opinions have been wide-ranging, divisive and fluctuating. In this context, this chapter examines the impact of the evolving BRI projects on European thinking and policy-making.
Europe is a nebulous geographical and political concept, but for the purposes of this study the main focus will be on the 27 states that currently constitute the European Union (EU) plus the recently-exited United Kingdom, although occasional reference
will be made to other European states. The EU's external relations with China as
with other Asian states remain multi-layered, in tl1at not just tl,e formal institutions of
the EU but also the individual member states as well as in some cases individual cities
have developed their own linkages, whether economic, political or even ctd rurnl, with
China. Any study, therefore, of European perspectives must take into account that
there is not one coherent view of China and the BRI.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAsia and Europe in the 21st Century : New Anxieties, New Opportunities
Subtitle of host publicationNew Anxieties, New Opportunities
EditorsRahul MISHRA, Azirah HASHIM, Anthony MILNER
PublisherTaylor and Francis Inc.
Chapter9
Pages99-112
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003148067, 9781000381900
ISBN (Print)9780367707989
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies on Asia in the World
PublisherRoutledge

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