IS THERE A CHINESE INTERNATIONAL MODEL? THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE AS A CASE STUDY
Despite the astonishing integration of China with the global world, its attitude toward the established international institutions and practices seems ambivalent. China’s economic, legal and political systems, in other words, seems sui generis, and its general behavior and attitude toward the international economic and legal order has a certain degree of “exceptionalism” or divergence. This can be seen in its interactions with the WTO, where China has started to reinterpret some of the association’s legal concepts and challenge some of its practices, and in its attitude toward notions such as rule of law, democracy, and human rights. This state of affairs seems to reflect rather than a simple deviance of China, a deeper lacuna in the current international economic and legal order, which seems unable to address the new geopolitical situation, in which China is rising as a great power. Given the systemic nature of the challenge that China imposes to the existing economic and legal order, it is essential to focus on what norms China is currently creating and how it is shaping them. In order to elaborate on the existence of a ‘China international model’, my research takes as a case study the Belt and Road Initiative. Despite all the possible security and financial obstacles, the BRI might have serious implications not only for the international economic legal order, but also for international politics, and it can reveal aspects of a Chinese international model that is likely to re-emerge.