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 


1. Cheng Yu, Song Lilei, Huang Lihe, eds. The Belt & Road Initiative in the Global Arena: Chinese and European Perspectives. Singapore, Palgrave, 2017. 265 p.

2. Hillman J. China’s Belt and Road Initiative must Become a Strategy. May 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

3. What is Belt and Road Initiative. Available at: (accessed 25.11.2017).

4. Carney J. The Most Nixonian Thing Trump Did Today Had Nothing to Do With Comey. May 12, 2017. Available at: (accessed 22.11.2017).

5. Holtz M. Trumpeting ‘One Belt, One Road,’ China bids to lead ‘Globalization 2.0’. Available at: (accessed 24.12.2017).

6. Walters R. The U.S.–China Economic Relationship: Time for a Change in Tone. August 10, 2017. Available at: (accessed 13.11.2017).

7. US revives two infra projects in Asia to counter China’s OBOR, India to play vital role. Available at: (accessed 13.11.2017).

8. Ansley R. Tillerson’s Takes on US Foreign Policy. December 13, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

9. Martel F. Xi Jinping to World Communist Summit: ‘Turn Planet Earth into a Harmonious Family’. December 1, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

10. Xenakis J. China-Built Railway in Kenya Raises Questions About ‘Debt Trap Diplomacy’. June 2, 2017. Available at: (accessed 21.10.2017).

11. Wilson W. China’s Huge ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative Is Sweeping Central Asia. November 21, 2016. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

12. Gaspers J. China’s “16+1” Equals Much Ado about Nothing? December 5, 2017. Available at: (accessed 20.12.2017).

13. Mora E. Pentagon: China to Expand Military Bases in Pakistan, Other Allied Countries. June 8, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.11.2017).

14. Luft G. Silk Road 2.0: US Strategy Toward China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Atlantic Council Strategy Paper, no. 11, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

15. Trentmann N. Western Firms Bet Big on China’s Billion-Dollar Infrastructure Project. May 14, 2017. Available at: (accessed 10.10.2017).

16. Jackson D. China’s Communist Leadership has a Model of Totalitarianism for the 21st century. October 29, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.11.2017).

17. Scissors D. The days of China Inc. always having the money are ending. June 2, 2016. Available at: (accessed 28.11.2017).

18. Joy-Perez C. Another measure shows China’s Belt and Road Initiative is overhyped. October 11, 2017. Available at: (accessed 25.12.2017).

19. Goodman M., Remler D., Yu Y. Parallel Perspectives on the Global Economic Order. September 22, 2017. Available at: (accessed 29.11.2017).

20. Haider Z. Addressing the Global Infrastructure Deficit: Channels for U.S.-China Cooperation. Ch. 9. September 22, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.11.2017).

21. Hillman J., Goodman M. Asia’s Competing Visions. September 26, 2017. Available at: (accessed 10.12.2017).

22. Jin F. The Belt and Road Initiative: Progress, Problems and Prospects. Ch.9. September 27, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.11.2017).

23. Dollar D. The AIIB and the ‘One Belt, One Road’. Summer 2015. Available at: (accessed 20.12.2017).

24. Meltzer J. China’s One Belt One Road initiative: A view from the United States. June 19, 2017. Available at: (accessed 20.11.2017).

25. Menon S. The Unprecedented Promises – and Threats – of the Belt and Road Initiative. April 28, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

26. Solís M., Dollar D., Stromseth J. Rescuing U.S. economic strategy in Asia. October 25, 2017. Available at: (accessed 17.12.2017).

27. Dollar D. Yes, China is investing globally – but not so much in its belt and road initiative. May 8, 2017. Available at: (accessed 21.11.2017).

28. Chen J. Camel bells and smoky deserts. March 13, 2016. Available at: (accessed 23.10.2017).

29. Setser B. Can China Finance One Belt One Road Without Jeopardizing Its Own Financial Stability? May 22, 2017. Available at: (accessed 11.10.2017).

30. Le Corre F. Europe’s mixed views on China’s One Belt, One Road initiative. May 23, 2017. Available at: (accessed 23.12.2017).

31. Dollar D. Is China’s development finance a challenge to the international order? November 9, 2017. Available at: (accessed 18.12.2017).

32. Bolton K. “One Belt, One Road”, China, Globalization and the International Oligarchy. October 19, 2017. Available at: (accessed 21.12.2017).

33. Ferguson T. Where the China Lobby Meets Closed Doors: Congress. Available at: (accessed 27.12.2017). 

Registered in System SCIENCE INDEX

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.

Comments (0)

No comments

Add comment






Current Issue
2023, vol. 67, No. 3
Topical Themes of the Issue:
  • Tax Instruments to Stimulate Innovations in EU Countries 
  • Russia and Western Balkans: Realized and Missed Opportunities in Trade
  • Spanish Society: Stable Instability 
  • ASEAN and the Myanmar Dilemma 
  • Greater Middle East
Submit an Article
The Editorial Board invites authors to write analytical articles on the following topics:
  • changes in the processes of globalization in modern conditions
  • formation of the new world order
  • shifts in civilization at the stage of transition to a digital society

The editors are also interested in publishing synthesis articles / scientific reviews revealing the main trends in the development of certain regions of the world - Latin America, Africa, South Asia, etc.