AN ANALYSIS OF THE PRIMARY DRIVER FOR CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE—SECURITY VERSUS ECONOMICS
Whitman, Jamie N.
Glosny, Michael A.
Khan, Feroz H.
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China portrays the Belt and Road Initiative—an interconnected network of rail lines, oil and gas pipelines, roads, bridges, and port facilities designed to connect China with Central Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe—as an effort aimed at regional economic integration with win-win outcomes for every country involved. The China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is the flagship project of the Belt and Road Initiative, consisting of rail lines, fiber optic cables, power plants, and the Gwadar Port facility. CPEC provides the most tangible infrastructure projects to evaluate. Critics argue that it is a Chinese neocolonial effort to exert Chinese influence and increase Chinese power globally, burdening poor and developing countries with dangerous amounts of debt. Chinese internal and external security concerns, such as violence in Xinjiang and the perceived “Malacca Dilemma,” are also discussed as important drivers for the Belt and Road Initiative and CPEC. This thesis examines both economic and security arguments to address the question: What is the primary driver for China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor? The research shows that security is the primary driver for these projects. Economic considerations and benefits are also important to Chinese leaders, but security considerations trump economic ones.
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