Measuring China’s Political Influence along the Belt and Road
Principal Investigator: Jacob N. Shapiro, Princeton University
Co-Investigators: Joseph H. Felter, Stanford University; Ethan B. Kapstein, Arizona State University; Audrye Wong, Princeton University
Years of Award: 2021-2023
Managing Service Agency: Office of Naval Research
China’s economic rise heralds a new era in great power competition. Its so-called Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which provides development finance primarily for infrastructure projects, brings deep questions in international relations to the fore: how do states use their economic power to achieve national interests in competition short of armed conflict; and can economic instruments be used as a means of coercion in international politics? Unfortunately, we lack a robust theory of the political-economic channels through which investments and financing yield influence and do not have rigorous measures of whether China is gaining such influence with BRI. A new empirically validated political economy model of economic competition for political influence is required.