Understanding China’s “One Belt and One Road” Initiative: An “International Public Goods” Approach

  • Li XingEmail author
  • Zheng Xiaowen


The chapter provides a framework for understanding China’s approach to setting up a regional cooperation mechanism through its “One Belt and One Road” Initiative (OBOR Initiative). The OBOR Initiative is a policy strategy aiming to promote connectivity and cooperation among countries along China’s ancient maritime and overland trade routes. It can also be seen as Beijing’s grand cross-region “international public goods” (IPGs) ranging from physical infrastructure, such as network of roadways, railways, maritime ports, power grids, oil and gas pipelines, and associated infrastructure projects, to special economic zones. This grand project represents China’s “go global” strategy and outward expansion, and it will no doubt strengthen regional “common goods” in terms of direction utility, risk reduction, and capacity enhancement. Studying the OBOR Initiative through the IPGs angle also implicitly helps to project China as an emerging responsible “global normative power” who is struggling to create a Eurasian “community of common destiny.” Chinese norms (policies and institutions) are being diffused by the “causal” effect of the Chinese model of economic success and through the OBOR-related economic activities, such as trade, investment, technical assistance, and infrastructural development. The rise of Chinese normative power is going hand in hand with Beijing’s increasing role in international financial institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). When China’s hard power of the OBOR (production, trade, finance) continues to equip China as an international public goods provider, and its international institutional role continues to increase, China’s soft power of the OBOR (norms, values, institutions, and policies) will also expand. In this context, it is expected that the world will continue to witness the clashes between the emerging world order brought about by China’s global rise and the existing world order led by the USA. And the OBOR Initiative is and will be one of the frontlines of the China-US conflict.


OBOR Initiative International public goods Infrastructure World order 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalborg UniversityAalborgDenmark
  2. 2.Beijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

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