Economic Origins and Geopolitical Limits of China’s Belt and Road Initiative

September 25, 2019

Many see the Chinese economic miracle as an illustration of an alternative model of development to the neoliberal orthodoxy. It is also assumed that China’s increasing economic and political involvement in the Global South, from its Asian neighbors to countries in faraway developing regions, challenge American domination, particularly after Xi Jinping started the One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative. Professor Hung argues that China’s export-oriented developmental miracle is in fact a constitutive part of the global neoliberal order, and is made possible by unique conditions difficult to be replicated in other places. At the same time, China’s overseas economic interests are still relatively small if we discount capital flight in the outgoing flow of investment. Having that said, China’s rise as a capital exporter is still making it follow in the footsteps of preceding capitalist-hegemonic powers to protect its global economic interests by projecting its military power and political influence overseas. Having been a free rider in the US-centered global order for decades, mastering the skill of exercising its political and military muscles on the global stage effectively is going to be a long process for China. Before China finds a viable solution to this question of hegemony, the OBOR project will be less than meet the eyes.


Ho-fung Hung is the Henry M. and Elizabeth P. Wiesenfeld Professor in Political Economy in the Department of Sociology and in the Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of the award-winning Protest with Chinese Characteristics (2011) and The China Boom: Why China Will not Rule the World (2016). His articles have appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, the American Sociological Review, Development and Change, Review of International Political Economy, Asian Survey, and elsewhere, and have been translated into nine different languages. His analyses of the Chinese political economy and Hong Kong politics have been featured or cited in The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, BBC News, The Guardian, Die Presse (Austria), Folha de S. Paulo (Brazil), The Straits Times (Singapore), The South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), Xinhua Monthly (China), and People’s Daily (China), among other publications.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

4:00 - 5:30pm

SFU Vancouver
515 West Hastings
Harbour Centre 2270
Sauder Industries Policy Room


This event is part of the 2019-20 Social Science Colloquium on China in the World, conceived and facilitated by Professor Irene Pang, School for International Studies.