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The BRI and AIIB: A Challenge to the Liberal International Order?

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Version 1 2021-12-06, 23:29
posted on 2021-12-06, 23:29 authored by Whyte, Thomas

First announced in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become a central component of Chinese foreign policy under the presidency of Xi Jinping. Given the scope and vision of the BRI, several fundamental questions have been raised by the policy. Is the BRI threatening? Will it strengthen the system? Will it supplement it? In order to explore this puzzle, the thesis undertakes empirical analyses of the BRI and the accompanying Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). These analyses will be placed within a container of the Liberal International Order (LIO). This framework, derived from the writings of G. John Ikenberry, is based around four elements: Open Multilateral Trade, International Institutions, Liberal Democracy and Neoliberal World Economy. The findings show that the BRI and AIIB have combined to create a disorientating picture in which elements of the LIO are both strengthened and undermined. This allows China to sit benignly within the order while constructing the infrastructure needed to break from the system - if and when required.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

International Relations

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of International Relations

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations


Young, Jason