London School of Economics, PhD in International Relations, Research Assistant, Department of International Relations
Rediscovering Continentalism: the BRI and Chinese Geostrategic Reorientation
This article assesses the geopolitical significance of China's Silk Road strategy by examining its relevance to the reorientation of Chinese geo-strategic posture that has been underway since the advent of the Xi Jinping era. It proposes that the Belt and Road Initiative, which fits into broader Chinese efforts to promote an expansionist design on the Eurasian continent and along its peripheral waters, indicates a continental shift in Chinese geostrategic approach. This emerging continental orientation, which is in keeping with Beijing's distinctly expansionist foreign policy line, is intended to provide a sense of direction for China's bid for regional primacy and global pre-eminence. It represents a momentous shift in China's geopolitical posture and spatial economic orientation, which, until recently, had remained heavily skewed towards the maritime direction in the east and the coastal regions. Yet, the rediscovery of continentalism constitutes not so much a complete reversal of Chinese geostrategic and spatial development priorities. Nor is it intended to supersede or conflict with Chinese maritime ambitions in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Rather, it is designed to rebalance what had hitherto been a largely lopsided geopolitical orientation and spatial development pattern by giving the necessary impetus to renew the Chinese outlook on the nation's geopolitical and development potential, while at the same time trying to achieve maximum synergy between continental and maritime expansion as China aspires to a position of both continental and maritime pre-eminence.