‘Community of Common Destiny’ as Post-Western Regionalism: Rethinking China’s Belt and Road Initiative from a Confucian Perspective - Raoul BUNSKOEK and Chih-yu SHIH


Raoul BUNSKOEK* and Chih-yu SHIH**

Conventional explanations of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) focus on how the BRI will be in China’s interest, how it will strengthen China’s geopolitical position, or a combination of the two. We argue that such views are limited because they merely interpret the BRI through ‘Western’ IR lenses. This paper ‘re-worlds’ China by using the BRI as a case study to illustrate how in the discursive field(s) of China’s elite, China as a Westphalian nation state, and China as amorphous Tianxia under Confucianism coexist, struggle for recognition, and are interrelated. Consequently, we argue that China, because of the economic miracle it created domestically over the last few decades, is now convinced of its own ‘moral superiority’, and ready to export its self-perceived ‘benevolence’ abroad. In this light, we read the BRI to be undergirded by a combination of ‘Western’ and Confucian values, suggesting a post-Western/post-Chinese form of regionalism.

Keywords: Belt and Road, Post-Western, Regionalism, Tianxia, Confucianism


* Dr., University of Bayreuth, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
** Prof. Dr., National Taiwan University, Department of Political Science