Belt and Road Initiative and Future Peacebuilding in the Middle East

Article

Belt and Road Initiative; US-China competition; Biden-Xi talks; peacebuilding; Middle East...

Shun-Wen Wang
Associate Professor, Department of Political Science,
Chinese Culture University, Taiwan

Abstract:

Withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan raises debates on the requiem of peacebuilding among scholars in the post-conflict reconstruction field. Local political elites and beneficiaries are much involved in security and economic interests. Though foreign interveners want to use bottom-up methods, local elites will hamper them if peacebuilding processes contradict their interests.

This paper examines the effectiveness of peacebuilding from role conception, role-playing, and role conflict between foreign interveners(China and the US), especially on foreign interveners’ strategies. Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) may be a good topic to analyze the political and economic aspects and their relation with those post-conflict countries. This paper will focus on China’s growing role in the Middle East under its BRI. Then, it will discuss the US-China competition and its strategies. Finally, it will discuss the implications for the Middle East.

  1. Introduction
Withdrawing the US troops from Afghanistan raises debates on the requiem of peacebuilding among scholars in post-conflict reconstruction. The future feasibility of so-called "liberal peacebuilding" is also in question. For example, as Jorg Kustermans(2021) claimed, western peacebuilding is not based on a "bottom-up" method but on liberal ideology. Local political elites and beneficiaries are much involved in security and economic interests. Though foreign interveners want to use bottom-up methods, local elites will hamper them if peacebuilding processes contradict their interests. Thus, nationalism, corruption, oligarchy, autocracy, and even economic imperialism are the typical results(2021, 3).

This paper examines the effectiveness of peacebuilding from role conception and role-playing of foreign interveners(China and the US). Belt and Road Initiative(BRI) may be a good topic to analyze the political and economic aspects and their relation with those post-conflict countries. Under the BRI, China has a considerable number of projects in various Middle East countries. China has become the biggest importer of crude, with almost half of it coming from the Middle East, and emerged as the region’s largest trading partner over the last few years(Vohra 2022).

However, with the outbreak of the Russian invasion, western countries seem to unite as in the Cold War, and the competition between democracies and autocracies is much more evident. Therefore, it is vital to examine how the leaders from the US and China think of the recent and future world order. Or will a new Cold War be in the world?

Examining what the leaders want in their decision-making process is always challenging because of the lack of first-hand materials. Thus, analyzing their official talks and document as narrative analyzers do is a way for us to deduce their priorities. President Biden and Xi Jinping met virtually three times in 2021 and 2022 before and after the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war. These talks are good objectives for us to distinguish whether they have different discourses through context analysis. This paper will check narratives in the meetings. After analyzing leaders' narratives, it will analyze the implication to countries in the Middle East and Taiwan, and finally, with some suggestions.

Discourse analysis is used in many disciplines, including sociology, political science, philosophy, and international relations, and it is often linked with the constructivist and critical approaches to international relations. Although international relations scholars started to adopt the discourse analysis method in the 1980s, it became more mainstream in the next two decades (Aydın-Düzgit and Rumelili 2019).

Discourse analysis is an engagement with meaning and the linguistic and communicative processes through which social reality is constructed. Discourse can therefore be defined as a space where intersubjective meaning is created, sustained, transformed, and, accordingly, becomes constitutive of social reality (Hölzscheiter 2013). This paper uses discourse analysis to discover the changing positions of President Biden and Xi.

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