The Geopolitics of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

Jean-Marc F. Blanchard and Colin Flint
Publication Date: 
April 1st, 2017

China’s “One Belt, One Road” project is comprised of two components: the Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB)—that were announced separately in 2013. Each component has the potential to transform the global geopolitical landscape through the construction of interrelated infrastructure projects including ports, highways, railways and pipelines. Such hard infrastructure requires the complementary construction of soft infrastructure, such as free trade and investment agreements, and other accords. We introduce a special section focusing specifically on the geopolitics of the MSRI that stems from a workshop hosted in November 2015 in Shanghai. The origins, scope and content of the MSRI are described, along with a summary of the current literature discussing the project, and dominant geopolitical representations. The MSRI is a geopolitical project that involves a number of actors (governments, private companies and Chinese state-owned enterprises) at a number of geographic scales (cities, provinces, states and continents). The articles provide insights into the geopolitics of a large connectivity project. This piece appeared as Jean-Marc F. Blanchard and Colin Flint, "The Geopolitics of China's Maritime Silk Road Initiative," Geopolitics, Vol. 22, No. 2 (April 2017), pp. 223-245.