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China Keeps the Peace

How Peaceful Development Helps and Hinders China

Workers are seen near a sign written in Chinese at the construction site of the Mombasa-Nairobi standard gauge railway (SGR) at Emali in Kenya October 10, 2015. Noor Khamis / Reuters

According to conventional wisdom, Chinese president Xi Jinping has launched a more ambitious and geopolitically game-changing era of Chinese foreign economic policy. And Beijing is certainly promoting new economic initiatives, from the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to the rollout of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative. But China’s international economic grand strategy under Xi is not new. It is an extension of Beijing’s long-standing Peaceful Development framework from the mid-1990s, which asserts that China’s own development and stability is contingent on shared prosperity with its international economic partners, especially those in the developing world. In fact, the Peaceful Development strategy has not been uniformly successful, and Xi’s expansion of it is likely to create unexpected challenges for China and the world.

DOUBLING DOWN

Recent analysis from U.S. think tanks and scholars links China’s increasingly assertive behavior in its

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