– Receptions and Territorial Impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative –

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the major geopolitical and geoeconomic projects today. Due to China’s growing political and economic powers since the early 2000s, it quickly received attention around the world, sparking ambivalent representations among political, military, cultural, economic, financial and industrial state and non-state actors.

Part of the Chinese Constitution since 2017, the BRI is endowed with financial tools and an Action Plan stating the main objectives as well as the political and economic principles of the project. According to this text, the initiative aims to promote the free movement of economic factors, deepen market integration and strengthen connectivity between continents through the construction or modernization of transport infrastructure. Alongside the sea route Chinese authorities have identified six transnational land-based economic corridors, covering the entire Eurasian continent, where projects and investments are meant to improve connectivity. This is the most ambitious project that China has undertaken since the launch of economic reforms in the late 1970s. This “second opening” aims to accelerate the integration of China into the world through the export of its techniques, its standards, its institutions, its populations (tourists, students, labor) or even its own way of thinking.

Research questions
The BRImpact project aims to analyze the reception and territorial impacts of the BRI in China and in a number of states in Asia, Europe and Africa. How is this initiative understood and received by political, economic and social actors in these different states? What impacts does it have on flows and local development? At the receiving end, are they linked with national and regional land-use planning projects, as well as with projects of other powers such as those of Russia in Central Asia, the European Union in Central and South-Eastern Europe or the African Union in Africa? Beyond the official objectives of fostering connectivity and regional integration, is the BRI producing new spatial dynamics? In other words, is this initiative a way for China to assert a “non-Western vision” of regionalism? Finally, what are, in each of the countries studied, the political and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on the BRI?


To answer these questions, the BRImpact project analyzes, among other things:

  • the appropriation of the BRI by the Chinese provincial authorities and the impact of this initiative on their development and internationalization strategies;
  • the BRI’s receptions among the political, economic and academic elites of the partner countries and regions concerned by the study as well as its place in national and regional debates when supranational bodies exist;
  • the quantitative and geographical evolution of trade, investment and service flows in order to identify potential redistributions of flows and networks and, thereby, the possible emergence of new regionalization process;
  • the socio-economic and territorial consequence in terms of development and industrialization.
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