The Belt and Road Initiative, World Order and International Standards: Continuity, Adaptation, or Discontinuity?
Authors: Guli-Sanam Karimova, Stephen A. LeMay (Journal of Global Ethics, 2021, 17(1): 71–90)
Many questions arise in any Western discussion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Does China’s BRI represent a new world order that aligns with European values and interests? Alternatively, is it an attempt by China to dominate Eurasia and most of the world economically and socially? The West seems to have no clear answer to these and related questions. In this work, we look at one of the many potential theaters for tension: the relationship between BRI and international, mostly Western, standards. We highlight the BRI notion as a contested space between two distinct discourses: 1) discourse of Chinese dominance, with little influence from existing Western standards; 2) discourse of merging Western and Asian values that benefits all of humanity, an approach that fits with tianxia. This work examines Chinese norms and values in the context of these questions: 1) to what extent are written Western standards like the UN Global Compact compatible with the BRI? And 2) to what extent can those standards adapt to BRI, thus changing the European-dominated world order? We conclude with directions for future research on the role of standards in the BRI.
Keywords: international standards, ChinaBelt and Road Initiative, tianxia, new world order, global supply chains