The Normative Foundations of the Belt and Road Initiative



The purpose of the BRI not only to impact the global political economy; but also to change the way others relate to and think about the global political economy and their role in it, in dialogue with China’s proposal. In other words, the BRI is not only concept that raises the question of the quantitative changes in the global political economy—it equally concerns the question of qualitative, normative changes, or rather the questions how and against what backdrop will the China-led interactions along the Belt&Road develop, and what are their normative implications. This chapter therefore aims to provide an innovative and critical normative reading of the BRI. As a concept, the BRI is rooted in the thinking and practice of CPC and at the same time a product of a changing Chinese, but also changing global context. The chapter therefore briefly analyzes the normative sources of the BRI, which are to be found in China’s own developmental path and its new foreign policy under Xi Jinping. Then, the chapter turns to analysis of the six core normative principles of the BRI: shared destiny, sovereignty, state-led economic cooperation, new regionalism, and the philosophy of flexible, experimental and exception-ridden practice. The final section turns to the discussion of the potential pathways of diffusion of these normative principles along the countries and regions involved in the BRI.



The author would like to thank the ZEIT-Stiftung Ebelin und Gerd Bucerius for the generous support of their work in the period 2015–2018.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Polish Academy of SciencesWarsawPoland

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