Belt and Road Initiative and China’s Strategic Culture

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Abstract

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) does not hinge on economy alone but it has strategic underpinnings and implications also. The role of Chinese perceptions and behaviours in designing and executing BRI has either been dismissed or taken as an explanation of last resort. Cultural values, norms, perceptions, self-perception and self-conception are essential to understanding a state’s strategies and policies. In this context, while applying the theoretical framework of “Strategic Culture,” this paper discusses the salient features of the Chinese strategic culture and explains how it reflects in BRI. This study found out that security and economy are interlinked and complementary to each other in China’s Strategic Culture and BRI is a strategic response to the country’s internal and external threats, which are linked to its cultural legacy and national obligations. The paper concludes with the assumption that China may not be willing to indulge into an all-out conflict, yet, there is a strong likelihood that it will build its deterrence capabilities by deftly employing a mix of its conventional defensive and the active defence approaches.

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