Maria Adele Carrai is a Marie Curie Fellow at KU Leuven and a Fellow at Harvard University Asia Center (2018-19). Her research focuses on China’s legal history and how it affects the country’s foreign policy and approaches to international norms. Carrai’s manuscript “Sovereignty in China, A Genealogy of a Concept Since 1840” is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press in June 2019.
The lite Mega-Regional order of the BRI
"The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is one of the most ambitious of China’s geopolitical initiatives that promotes its particular vision of development and globalism. Given the current challenges to the multilateral mechanisms and China’s rise as a global power, one of the questions that scholars face is how to think about the BRI in regulatory and normative terms and what does it mean for the international multilateral system. One possible route is to consider the BRI as a Mega-Regional ordering project. To investigate whether and how this could be the case is the objective of this paper. The main questions the paper seeks to address are: what kind of regulative patterns is the BRI likely to follow or create? Which will be the greater common denominator in the trade and investment agreements China is signing with other countries as part of the BRI, and how are these likely to affect the current international trading and investment system? The idea of the paper is that the BRI, while being nested in the current international legal system, creates a ‘lite’ regulatory framework based mostly on bilateral partnerships, Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), which gradually are developing into deeper regional FTAs that contribute to creating larger Mega-regional orders."