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