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Abstract

Since the inception of President Xi Jinping’s regime, it is widely believed that he abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s “hide your strength and bide your time philosophy”, actively flexing China’s muscles in multiple policy areas in the hope of shaping the international world order decisively in favor of his country, a rising superpower. Under this context, China launched an important economic project aimed at regional and Eurasia economic integration, the One Belt One Road Initiative. Backed by China’s economic prowess and strong domestic nationalism, OBOR is widely seen as not just an international economic initiative, but also a part of Xi Jinping’s efforts to bring about a China-centric world order, challenging the existing US-led system. Contrary to popular belief, I approach the question of China’s rise in a multi-polar context. I show that countries are signing up to China’s OBOR not in anticipation of a Chinese world order, but simply as a diversification strategy to reduce dependency on the existing US system. I aim to demonstrate three things in this paper: First, although grievances over the existing US system are substantial, the appeal of OBOR nevertheless comes primarily from China’s inherent economic strengths. Second, China’s conservative economic policies would not extend into its future, and that a hypothetical Chinese economic leadership may not look so different from that of America’s. Third, state leaders may be keenly aware of this development and thus do not perceive a China-centric system to be their solution for grievances over the existing US-led system. Fourth, under this context, countries dissatisfied with the status quo may be pushed to turn to all other major powers they can find to relieve themselves from the American shock.

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