The Silk Road of the 21st Century: Debate in the USA

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2018-62-9-60-70

S. Shenin (, 
Chernyshevskii Saratov State University, 83, Astrakhanskaya Str., 410012 Saratov, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The article is devoted to the analysis of the debate in the U.S. on the Chinese strategic “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI). In the context of genesis, evolution and basic parameters of the BRI the author studies the attitudes of the most influential interest groups in the foreign policy establishment (conservatives, neoconservatives, realists and neoliberals) toward the Initiative. Of these four groups only the neoconservatives actively oppose the BRI – they consider it as an instrument of building the Chinese “totalitarian empire” that can play not a key, but a tangible role in the struggle for Asia between the U.S. and China. All other groups are agreed that it is quite possible to integrate the Initiative into the sphere of American interests. In this regard the conservatives believe that the U.S. Government could force the BRI to work for the American business only through external pressure and drawing various “red lines”, defending western values. The realists’ caution against strategic cooperation between the U.S. and the BRI until an “international consensus” on standards and rules is reached will create appropriate conditions for private American investments. The members of the neoliberal group are convinced that the Chinese Initiative is developing in the right direction, and it needs only slight corrections to unleash its potential of globalization fully. As a whole, on the current stage, the three latter groups having a shared strategic vision of the BRI certainly can formulate and pursue a common foreign policy attitude toward the “Belt and Road”. It can be based on the acknowledgement of the Initiative, separation of functions between China and the U.S. (“hard” and “soft” infrastructure) within the BRI, and coordinated efforts of the West to compel Beijing to accept such international economic rules and values as strategic transparency, open access to the financial resources of the program for American corporations, favorable investment climate for all participants, unacceptability of geopolitical and military aspects, and so on. 

Keywords: “Silk Road”, “Belt and Road Initiative”, China, United States, infrastructure, economic development, conservatives, neoconservatives, realists, neoliberals 


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For citation:
Shenin S. The Silk Road of the 21st Century: Debate in the USA. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2018, vol. 62, no. 9, pp. 60-70.

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