APARC Research - China's Belt and Road Initiative

Chinese construction workers in Colombo, Sri Lanka

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Mapping political actors and agendas

Understanding China’s BRI

Taking an institutional and micro-level approach, this project analyzes the role of domestic politics in driving the Belt and Road Initiative and investigates its nature and implications.

Research Focus

Launched in 2013, the Belt and Road initiative (BRI) is the most-watched international policy strategy China has advanced on the world stage. But BRI also is intertwined with domestic politics and interests. Distinct from most other work on BRI, this research project, “The Nature and Impact of the Belt and Road Initiative,” takes an institutional and micro-level approach to identify the different actors and interests that drive the BRI in practice and what its implications are.

At its outset, this study questions whether – rather than accepts that – the BRI is a tightly coordinated central state effort and leaves open the possibility that it, at least in part, is another example of local state development taking advantage of global opportunities. It draws on China Program Director Jean Oi’s earlier and current studies of China’s local state development and central-local relations, although it moves beyond domestic politics.

Having conducted preliminary interviews with officials, the project continues to collect data on the firms and organizations involved with the BRI projects both within China and in the countries where they are taking place. Using various types of sources, the research aims to map the firms that are signing BRI contracts and those that do the work for the various BRI projects.

Lead Researcher


Jean C. Oi

Shorenstein APARC China Program Director

Jean C. Oi

Shorenstein APARC China Program Director
Senior Fellow, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Professor of Political Science

Related Events

BRI Research Workshop
March 2020