ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Belt and Road as a Strategic Initiative

Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order by Bruno Maçães, New Delhi: Penguin Random House, 2019; pp xii + 227, ₹ 599.

 

This is an elegantly written, eminently readable book on a subject that has garnered much attention in recent years, namely China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The Chinese project is often still described as an economic or infrastructure development project, but Bruno Maçães lays out, in no uncertain terms through multiple examples, that this is a grand strategy initiative by Beijing intended to do nothing less than cement China’s position in the world as its pre-eminent power in all senses of the term.

Maçães opens by offering a framework for understanding the BRI from a Chinese perspective using the ancient concept of tianxia (literally, “all under heaven”). Tianxia is a way of ordering the world in terms of relationships between constituent units—kingdoms or states—based on mutual benefit. But, this is also a system in which there is a clear understanding of the fact that some units are more powerful than others, and that those that are weaker should know their place and behave accordingly. Naturally, China is at the top of the heap in this system with the Chinese emperor as the “son of heaven” expecting respect and allegiance from all other political entities around China.

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Updated On : 15th Dec, 2019

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