A Comparative Study of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Marshall Plan

Since the introduction of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013, both the mainstream media and professional analysts began to name the Initiative “China’s Marshall Plan”. While the rhetoric may simply be an eye-catching term constructed in journalist and consultancy circles, this paper examines the background and purposes behind these two grand projects in order to shed light on the similarities and the differences of their effects on the world order. By comparing the projects under five different aspects—boosting exports, exporting currency, countering a rival, fostering strategic divisions, and siphoning away diplomatic support—this paper argues that while the two projects may have similarities and aim to respond to the malfunctioning world order through macro political-economic investments and developmental aid, their outcomes (given the relative differences of the global position of rivalries—USSR in Marshall Plan; US in BRI) and the changing economic structures, could be very different. As a result, this paper concludes that it may be too early to suggest that the BRI could bring similar outcomes as the Marshall Plan, especially in competing for the global leadership in the 21st century.

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Shen, S. and Chan, W. (2018) 'A Comparative Study of the Belt and Road Initiative and the Marshall Plan', Palgrave Communications 4.32

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