The main objective of the research programme Geopolitical Economy of the Belt and Road Initiative and its Reflections is to analyse China’s increasing involvement with governments, local institutions, and local stakeholders in the energy and non-energy sectors in a selection of cases in Asia, Africa, and the European Union within the context of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the response in these countries to Chinese involvement. The countries selected for case studies include Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Hungary, Western Balkan states, and Pakistan. We are interested in studying the regional and global impact and reception of such multilateral institutions, their relationship to the activities and policies of Chinese companies, and how these institutions could alter frameworks of global governance and the existing regional and global order.
The second objective is to examine the emergence, policies, and geopolitical impact of the multilateral institutions set up by China, namely the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
We aim to examine the activities and the local and geopolitical economic responses of Chinese companies and multilateral institutions based on a three-layer framework:
The first is the bilateral layer. This layer examines patterns of interaction and the mechanisms of Chinese corporations and their involvement with national industries, their relationship to foreign investment projects, and the extent to which they are embedded in the local economy of the selected receiving countries.
Secondly, the domestic layer examines the problems that may arise in the receiving countries as a result of Chinese involvement (i.e., from trade, investment, and finance). The aim is to examine, among others, domestic socio-economic, urban, and environmental challenges. At the national level, these may result from loans and export credit strategies that affect the political constellation in the receiving country, but the problems may also refer to urban development, social stratification, employment, ethnic tensions, the search for the cultural and national roots in the receiving country, the direct relationship between members of the receiving society and foreign (Chinese) workers and specialists, and specific cooperation projects between China and Europe and their related risks and challenges.
The third layer is the global layer in which the aim is to examine it through two interconnected foci. The first focus examines the cooperation between Chinese National Oil Companies (NOCs) and International Oil Companies (IOCs) like Shell and British Petroleum, and by studying the construction of regional and transcontinental infrastructure projects, such as railways, highways, pipelines, and stakeholder and acquisition of the domestic energy industry. The second focus aims to examine the emergence, policies and geopolitical economic impact of the multilateral institutions set up by China. These include (i) the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and (ii) the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The interest here lays at the regional and global impact and reception of such multilateral institutions, their relationship to the activities and policies of Chinese companies, and how these institutions could alter the existing regional and global order.