Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations

The belt and road initiative: a New Zealand appraisal

Document Type

Response or Comment

Publication Date



The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) presents a unique challenge of responding to a Chinese led initiative that could be a platform for furthering regional development and New Zealand’s economic relations with China but one that remains ambiguous, has divided international opinion and that potentially runs counter to some of New Zealand’s engagement principles. In its simplest form, the Chinese Government presents BRI as an opportunity to form bilateral partnerships with China to promote economic connectivity and development and to deepen economic, cultural and political relations with China and the surrounding region. Within Chinese academia, the initiative is considered an economic strategy to deal with Chinese overcapacity and limited consumption and to promote regional development and connectivity whilst exporting what many Chinese scholars consider a successful economic growth model. China’s international relations community views BRI as a geopolitical strategy to avoid direct confrontation with its main strategic competitor—the US—and to increase Chinese influence in the surrounding region while increasing China’s contribution of public goods, role in the regional economy and voice in world affairs. BRI is considered the external expression of the ‘Chinese dream’ and the ‘great rejuvenation’ of the Chinese nation.


© 2018 New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre.

Publication Title

The Belt and Road Initiative: A New Zealand Appraisal