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Selling the Silk Road: China’s Belt Road Initiative (BRI) in Myanmar
February 24, 2020 - 10:15-12:00
Open lecture with Mads Barbesgaard, Department of Human Geography, Lund University
The BRI is often described as a ‘grand strategy’ led by President Xi Jinping, centrally planned and rolled out by obedient state-owned enterprises (SOEs). The sheer size of the initiative – 136 countries have received US$90 billion in Chinese foreign direct investment and exchanged US$6 trillion in trade with China – can make the BRI appear monolithic and inevitable. However, using a political economy analysis, this talk presents an alternative analysis arguing that the BRI is not a grand strategy, but a broad framework of activities that seek to address a crisis in Chinese capitalism. This is shown concretely through an examination of four BRI projects in Myanmar, detailing their drivers, the multitude of actors involved and the political contestations around them.