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China’s “Asia dream”: the Belt Road Initiative and the new regional order

Callahan, William A. (2016) China’s “Asia dream”: the Belt Road Initiative and the new regional order. Asian Journal of Comparative Politics, 1 (3). pp. 226-243. ISSN 2057-8911

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Identification Number: 10.1177/2057891116647806


Since Xi Jinping became leader in 2012, he has redirected Chinese foreign policy. This article examines the role of peripheral diplomacy in Xi’s emerging grand strategy. While it is popular to look to theories of the international system – offensive realism and liberal institutionalism – to explore this issue, this article follows constructivism to take seriously the role of ideas and domestic politics in foreign policy-making. Through an analysis of official and unofficial sources, it traces linkages between ideas, institutions, and behavior in Chinese foreign policy. In particular, it argues that Beijing is combining new ideas (China Dream, Asia Dream), new policies (comprehensive diplomacy and security), new institutions (AIIB) and new projects (BRI) to build what Xi calls the ‘community of shared destiny.’ The goal is to weave neighboring countries into a Sino-centric network of economic, political, cultural, and security relations. Beijing’s grand strategy thus is to re-constitute the regional order – and eventually global order – with new governance ideas, norms, and rules. Hence while the Asian region is an important focus of Chinese foreign policy, Beijing’s peripheral diplomacy is about more than win-win cooperation in the neighborhood. It also acts as the means to the much larger end of promoting China’s new vision of global governance. Theoretically, the article shows how ‘connectivity’ is more than an issue of the ‘hardware’ of physical infrastructure; it is also a ‘software’ issue of the connectivity of ideas, institutions, and behavior in diplomacy itself.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 The Author(s)
Divisions: International Relations
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2018 10:14
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2020 05:07

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