Under President Xi Jinping’s leadership, Chinese foreign relations have moved from keeping a low profile, to a more assertive bid for international leadership that is beginning to take form in the ‘belt and road initiative’ (BRI). This initiative focuses on connectivity in policy coordination, facilities, trade, finance and people-to-people relations, in order to connect China to key parts of Asia, the south Pacific, east Africa and Europe. Networked capitalism and the national unit, which are often seen as spatial opposites in the global political economy, are both exercised through the BRI in mutually supporting ways. Networked capitalism is not challenging the national spatial unit, nor vice versa. Rather, they conglomerate to reinforce Chinese government narratives which portray China as the new trailblazer of global capitalism—thus illustrating and justifying a new Sinocentric order in east Asia. Likely winners of this constellation, if it is successful, are megalopolises in Eurasia, and most of all the Chinese Communist Party. Likely losers are countries that are not included in the BRI, most notably the United States. In a context where President Donald Trump is signalling a more protectionist stance and the United States is withdrawing from free trade pacts like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Trump may ironically enable Xi’s dream of making China great again.
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Nordin, A.H.M. and Weissman, M. (2018) 'Will Trump make China great again? The Belt and Road Initiative and International Order', International Affairs 94.1: 231-249
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