DVPW IB-Sektionstagung 2020, Freiburg University
Panel: EU-China relations and the Belt and Road Initiative
Narration, Cooperation and Confrontation: Trilateral Perspectives on Belt and Road Security Interests
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can be viewed as a game-changer for the dynamics of international relations. This paper presents the importance of BRI as a signal that is interpreted in different manners by different audiences. As a project of global reach, virtually all countries in the world debate about the Chinese infrastructure plans. Depending on their involvement in the BRI, their geopolitical status and a myriad of other factors such as their national role conception, state perceptions of the New Silk Roads vary widely. At the same time, there is a debate about the BRI’s impact on national and international security. Depending on the particular perspective, the term “security” implies a vast variety of notions and therefore results in a mismatch of discourses based on mutual misunderstanding. In the Chinese context, for instance, the term is connected to the security of investments, of Chinese workers in foreign countries and stability (weiwen). By contrast, in the US-American perspective the BRI is seen as a means to hegemony, hence a strategic challenge or even threat. Beyond that, dimensions of the human security and environmental security concepts are discussed in the Western hemisphere, i.e. in the European Union that lacks, however, a uniform response. By presenting a selection of security perspectives with special emphasis on the strategic triangle of China, the EU, and the USA, the contribution aims to foster political, scientific and societal dialogue and greater insights into the different worlds of thought.
Keywords: Security Dimensions, Constructivism, Geopolitics