One Belt One Road : Chinese power meets the world


    • Freymann, Eyck


One Belt One Road : Chinese power meets the world

Eyck Freymann

(Harvard East Asian monographs, 439)

Harvard University Asia Center , Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2021

  • : pbk

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Includes bibliographical references (p. [287]-320) and index

Summary: "Freymann takes you inside Chinese President Xi Jinping's legacy project-One Belt One Road-the largest global infrastructure development program in history. The book argues that OBOR is not a centralized and systematic investment policy but rather a largely aspirational, bottom-up campaign to export an ancient Chinese model of patronage and tribute. Inside China, OBOR propaganda depicts Xi Jinping restoring the nation's lost imperial glory. Overseas, China uses massive investments to cultivate important international relationships"-- Provided by publisher


  • What is OBOR?
  • Origins : OBOR's many fathers
  • Emperor Xi : making the past serve the present
  • The emperor's new brand : promoting OBOR at home and abroad
  • Strategic promiscuity : Sri Lanka flirts with OBOR
  • The skeptical bulldozer : Tanzania turns away
  • The eagle's nest : China prevails in Greece
  • OBOR shapes four regions
  • Conclusion: How should the West respond?



In 2013, Chinese leader Xi Jinping announced a campaign for national rejuvenation. The One Belt One Road initiative, or OBOR, has become the largest infrastructure program in history. Nearly every Chinese province, city, major business, bank, and university have been mobilized to serve it, spending hundreds of billions of dollars overseas building ports and railroads, laying fiber cables, and launching satellites. Using a trove of Chinese sources, author Eyck Freymann argues these infrastructure projects are a sideshow. OBOR is primarily a campaign to restore an ancient model in which foreign emissaries paid tribute to the Chinese emperor, offering gifts in exchange for political patronage. Xi sees himself as a sort of modern-day emperor, determined to restore China's past greatness. Many experts assume that Xi's nakedly neo-imperial scheme couldn't possibly work. Freymann shows how wrong they are. China isn't preying on victims, Freymann argues. It's attracting willing partners-including Western allies-from Latin America to Southeast Asia to the Persian Gulf. Even in countries where OBOR megaprojects fail, Freymann finds that political leaders still want closer ties with China. Freymann tells the monumental story of Xi's project on the global stage. Drawing on primary documents in five languages, interviews with senior officials, and on-the-ground case studies from Malaysia to Greece, Russia to Iran, Freymann pulls back the veil of propaganda about OBOR, giving readers a page-turning world tour of the burgeoning Chinese empire, a guide for understanding China's motives and tactics, and clear recommendations for how the West can compete.

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