03.07.2018 - 08:45
AREA Ruhr Guest Lecture Series
Sven Grimm: The Belt-and-Road Initiative – Is China’s "modern Silk Road" eclipsing China's engagement with Africa? | Tue, July 3, 2018, 4–6 pm | Room SG 183, Geibelstr. 41, Duisburg
The Chinese Belt-and-Road Initiative (BRI) receives much public attention, as did China’s engagement in Africa in the mid-2000s. Exotism of the “Silk Road” narrative might be one reason for media attention in the West. Yet, in international discussions, the vast sums of money pledged for the initiative and massive Chinese public support play a major role. The narrative and amounts of money, however, also cause concern, both in those countries predominantly targeted by BRI, and in Africa, where some observers fear being outpaced by BRI and pushed (back) into a marginal position. In order to assess these fears, we need to understand the BRI and China-Africa narratives, their main protagonists and mechanisms for implementation.
The presentation will unpack BRI as well as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and compare mechanisms that should stimulate actors into engagement. The engagement can be presented as peaceful engagement for mutual development or increasing strategic engagement for larger, geopolitical purposes. The focus is on institutional arrangements and particularly business actors as transnational agents (or not) of BRI and FOCAC. What are the interests of the business community and which parts? How do these sit with the political intentions of BRI and the official mechanisms (funding and institutional arrangements) in place?
The main argument of the presentation is a policy learning on the Chinese side: officials build on experiences in Africa for their broader narrative. However, learning is limited to regulating and incentivising a certain segment of the business community. Ultimately, BRI serves as the catch-all narrative for a “globalization with Chinese characteristics”, thereby encompasses China’s Africa engagement while, at the same time, shifting emphasis.
Dr. Sven Grimm is Extraordinary Associate Professor at German Development Institute (Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik), Bonn
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