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Tue, 19 Mar


Via Zoom (Registration is required.)

The Rise and Fall of Economic-Centered Coalitions in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Speaker: Zhu Keren (The New School)

The Rise and Fall of Economic-Centered Coalitions in China’s Belt and Road Initiative
The Rise and Fall of Economic-Centered Coalitions in China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Time & Location

19 Mar 2024, 10:00 am HKT

Via Zoom (Registration is required.)

About the Event

Please register for this event HERE.


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), ten years since it began, has become China’s guiding foreign engagement and economic governance principle in the Xi Jinping era. However, questions remain — with regards to their implementation, why do megaprojects encounter such divergent responses — with some gaining local support while others causing local grievances? This paper addresses these questions by conducting sub-national level analysis and by applying the Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) in tracing the rise and fall of economic-centered coalitions in the Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway project, one of the most controversial and influential China-financed megaprojects of the BRI. The paper is part of a book project on the impact of Chinese-led infrastructure megaprojects in the Global South, based on fieldwork in China and Kenya between 2015 and 2023, and over 300 surveys and interviews with stakeholders involved with BRI project development and community-based project impact assessment. Our findings suggest that the BRI developed its current form from China’s domestic experience driven by economic interests, which laid the foundation for economic-centered coalitions that contributed to progress during project construction. Yet. such coalitions fluctuated with interest redistribution, which changed project outcomes, and led to future uncertainties in project development and Initiative success. The research project fills the gap in existing literature by providing a sub-national perspective on the impact of Chinese overseas engagement and provides a new pathway for assessing China’s growing sphere of influence.

Speaker's Bio

Zhu Keren is an incoming Assistant Professor of Political Science at Davidson College. She is a postdoctoral fellow at the India China Institute, The New School and a former Global China Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Boston University Global Development Policy Center. She holds a Ph.D. in Policy Analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School, an MSc in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and a BA in English from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her research focuses on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), global infrastructure, and sustainable development. She worked on BRI policy advisory in China from 2015-2017.


Global China Local Cultures (GCLC), ASIAR Research Cluster, HKIHSS, HKU

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