Think Tank (5/2022)
Professor Dominik Mierzejewski from the University of Lodz, Poland
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China’s Provincial Governments and the Belt and Road Initiative
14 Oct 2022

Professor Dominik Mierzejewski and Dr Przemyslaw Ciborek, both from the University of Lodz, Poland, gave a public seminar on “China’s Provincial Governments and the Belt and Road Initiative,” on 14 October 2022.

The two speakers critiqued the mainstream perspective that presents the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as China’s grand strategy based on imperial approaches supported by the PRC government. They argued that this perspective is only part of the complex picture regarding the origin and implementation of the BRI. Taking the domestic perspective into account, the two scholars contended that the BRI can be illustrated by discussing central-local dyadic relations in China from the longer post-1978 perspective.

In the first part of the seminar, the two researchers shed light on the central-provincial government relations by discussing continuity of fragmentation and decentralisation in China, with horizontal competition between provinces under the former leader  Deng Xiaoping and the centralisation efforts by current president Xi Jinping. In the second part, they discussed the origins of the BRI and its evaluations as a central government vertical management tool that allows Beijing to centralise the local players’ interests and navigate their horizontal competition into more coordinated directions. In the last part of the seminar, the speakers presented Sichuan province’s involvement in China’s external relations as a case study. According to them, the provincial government in Sichuan had played a very important role in building connectivity and trade ties between China and many Eurasian countries, and this Chinese province had also actively participated in China’s COVID-19 diplomacy.


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