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2023 | Buch

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Triangle Great Game of Contemporary International Politics

verfasst von: Edmund Li Sheng

Verlag: Springer Nature Singapore


Über dieses Buch

This book focuses on the triangular relations between China, the United States and the European Union from the perspective of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) via the methodology of international political economy. China, the US and the EU are the three most important players in international politics and the global economy, and their relations are accordingly among the most influential in the global arena. This book will argue that the interactions between China, the US and the EU are highly dynamic given their close connections in trade, finance and many other economic fields. In the context of US–China competition, the decisions of the EU, which has sought to remain independent in its foreign policy for decades, crucially shape the landscape of international politics, and lucidly articulates how international relations look from China to scholars of geopolitics.


Chapter 1. The Belt and Road Initiative and U.S.–China–EU Relations: A Historical Review
This chapter provides a brief history of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including its historical background, purpose, and design. The term “BRI” refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road. China maintains that the BRI is not a new mechanism but a concept of an initiative for cooperative development. Based on this cooperative development, China intends to leverage existing bilateral and multilateral mechanisms with the relevant countries to successively introduce infrastructure, transportation connections, and trade, and to facilitate investments. Since the 2013 announcement of the BRI, it has achieved phased development, arousing widespread concern in the U.S. and the EU. The attitude of the U.S. toward the BRI has never been positive, and it worsened after Donald Trump took office. Washington considers the BRI not only as an attempt to gain geo-economic and geo-strategic advantages but also as an important dimension of the strategic competition between the U.S. and China. Europe is an important region in which for China to promote the construction of the BRI, as most European countries are developed markets, and the EU has been China’s largest trading partner for many years. Since the introduction of the BRI, the EU’s institutions and some of its member states have moved from a wait-and-see attitude toward participation to competition. This chapter describes the introduction and development of the BRI through a systematic literature review. It also introduces the neoliberalist and neorealist concepts embedded within various initiatives to explore the interaction between China, the U.S., and Europe in the development of the BRI from the perspective of the international political economy.
Edmund Li Sheng
Chapter 2. U.S.–China Relations in Donald Trump’s Administration: The Belt and Road Initiative and the Thucydides Trap
After President Donald Trump took office, the U.S. started a trade war with many countries around the world. The trade war with China was the main battlefield, because China was accused of stealing both employment opportunities and intellectual property rights from American workers and companies. Moreover, the unexpected factor of the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly affected global supply chains, increasing competition. At the same time, as the pandemic spread throughout the U.S., Trump singled out China for criticism. In the second half of 2020, that criticism peaked, highlighting the deterioration and tension in America’s impression of China. In addition to tit-for-tat rhetoric related to trade and the pandemic, Trump’s speech touched on political topics that were extremely sensitive to China, including China’s interference in the democracy and sovereignty of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China’s ruling Communist Party, and China’s policy reversals. As a result, U.S.–China relations continued to sour. In the first section of this chapter, we discuss the U.S.–China trade war from the perspective of tariffs and technology restrictions. We then analyze the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on US–China relations. In the second section, we analyze how U.S.–China tensions affect the EU from the perspective of geopolitics and the international political economy. First, we describe the foreign policies of the U.S. and China toward the EU during this period. Second, we compare various aspects of the U.S. and China, such as politics, economy, trade, and finance. Third, based on the literature, the EU’s strategy in triangular relations is analyzed from the perspective of the traditional trichotomy of checks and balances, hedging, and conformity, and the most recent theory is provided.
Edmund Li Sheng
Chapter 3. The Belt and Road Initiative in EU–China Relations: Risk or Opportunity?
This chapter focuses on China–EU relations in recent years and illustrate how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has had a greater presence in Europe than elsewhere. China has dramatically expanded its relations with Central, East, and Southeast Europe (CESEE) since 2012. After the BRI was launched in 2013, China further strengthened its relations with the CESEE and established an institutional mechanism of 16+1 Cooperation, which became 17+1 after Greece joined in 2019. Subsequently, the CESEE region became one of the focal points of the BRI. We chronicle the development of the BRI and highlight landmark events in this process before presenting an analysis. Then, we discuss the significance of the CESEE for the BRI from geopolitical and political economy perspectives. We also evaluate the impact of the BRI and the 16+1 Cooperation mechanism on local and Chinese diplomacy. We argue that the BRI and the 16+1 Cooperation mechanism function as forms of institutional innovation for transnational cooperation in development that could accelerate the promotion of the development paradigm with Chinese characteristics. However, a series of Chinese activities in the CESEE has aroused concerns throughout Europe. Therefore, in the following section, we examine case studies involving the region’s relevant entities, such as the EU, NATO members, and European countries, perceiving and responding to BRI. These studies cover various issues regarding China’s presence in the region, such as infrastructure projects, 5G technology, and state-sponsored enterprises. We compare these entities’ perceptions of the BRI based on their European identities, geopolitical positions, and statuses in the regional economy.
Edmund Li Sheng
Chapter 4. The Reconstruction of the U.S.–EU Alliance in Joe Biden’s Administration: The G7 and NATO as Instruments to Contain China and Russia
This chapter focuses on the reconstruction of U.S.–EU relations in the post-Trump era, which began in early 2021. Indeed, the last few years have been a challenging period for allies of the U.S., including the EU. In openly defining China as the main strategic competitor of the U.S., the Trump administration highlighted the Indo-Pacific as the focal region for constraining China’s development. Simultaneously, the traditional transatlantic partnership became dysfunctional in many key aspects, including security and the economy. The unilateralism of Donald Trump severely harmed U.S.–EU relations. Worse, the COVID-19 pandemic further degraded the transatlantic partnership due to the U.S.’s chaotic policies against the global health crisis. Fortunately for the democratic alliance, it seems that Joe Biden has managed to halt the rapid erosion of U.S.–EU relations. He expressed the will to rebuild relations with America’s allies. Particularly in the current context of competition with China, the importance of the EU and the transatlantic partnership are significantly enhanced. In the first section of this chapter, we discuss the Biden administration’s foreign policy toward the EU, China and Russia. We then analyze the role of the EU in Biden’s strategy to contain China and Russia. However, we also argue that the U.S.–EU alliance must continue to confront divergences in their internal interests. It cannot be denied that some of the U.S.’s allies, such as Italy, are also current or prospective participants in China’s BRI, as they are driven by an eagerness to revive the economy. Therefore, it will be a challenge for Biden to bridge these internal gaps with U.S. allies. In the last section of the chapter, we use NATO and the G7 as examples to examine Biden’s efforts to rebuild the U.S.’s relations with its allies and constrain China. NATO, as a traditional security organization, is strengthening its presence in the South China Sea, increasing uncertainties in the West Pacific. The G7 recently proposed an economic and developmental alternative to China’s BRI, which is introduced in Chapter 5.
Edmund Li Sheng
Chapter 5. Competition Between International Public Goods: Alternatives to the BRI?
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlights the significance of public investment not only for public health recovery but also for addressing structural imbalances around the globe. China has strengthened the BRI via three specialized projects in the past year: the Silk Road of Health, the Silk Road of Green Development, and the DSR. In its Leaders’ Summit in June 2021, the G7 initiated a global action to create a “Build Back Better World” (B3W) that aimed to tackle the pandemic, revive the economy, protect the environment, and strengthen values such as democracy and freedom. This initiative and its goals can be interpreted as a response and alternative to China’s expansion of the BRI. In this chapter, the BRI and B3W against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic are introduced and comparatively analyzed. Moreover, the argument that the B3W will confront a series of challenges in the future, the greatest of which will be rooted in its internal problems, is emphasized and explained in detail.
Edmund Li Sheng
Chapter 6. Looking Ahead in the Mist of Chaos: Prospects of the BRI in a Stormy World
This chapter discusses several significant geopolitical events that have captured global attention in recent times: the Beijing Winter Olympics, the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the Taiwan issue, Arctic cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative. It provides a comprehensive overview of these significant geopolitical events and their implications for the global community.
Edmund Li Sheng
China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the Triangle Great Game of Contemporary International Politics
verfasst von
Edmund Li Sheng
Springer Nature Singapore
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