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The Belt and Road Initiative: China’s Imperialist Project?

Viktor Meczner orcid id ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb
Nikola M. Noršić orcid id ; Faculty of Political Science, University of Zagreb

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This article tries to explore the connection between Hannah Arendt's theory of imperialism and China's contemporary geopolitical and economic positioning in the world. Specifically, an attempt is made to see how the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – China's biggest economic project yet – is connected to Arendt's nuanced understanding of imperialism, presented in The Origins of Totalitarianism. The thesis statement is that BRI is an imperialist project, insofar as it helps both China's domestic economy (by strengthening its middle class), as well as China's increasing global influence. In Arendt's terms, the imperialist nature of BRI comes from the fact that China does not only have a surplus of capital but also a surplus of people, both of which necessitate economic expansion which can best be achieved through a project such as the Belt and Road Initiative.


Hannah Arendt; Imperialism; China; Belt and Road Initiative; The Origins of Totalitarianism

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