Visual analysis of the Belt and Road Initiative: securing narratives of regional geopolitical order, China’s identity and infrastructure development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

Central Asia is currently a hotbed of activity in terms of infrastructural development and regional integration frameworks. China has substantially enforced its power in the 21st century to project new narratives about these pivotal issues, in particular through the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Examining the communication of the Belt and Road Initiative from a regional geopolitical perspective is important due to the policy’s vast geopolitical implications. This chapter advances EU-China analysis by examining how China attempts to forge meaning for third parties – in this case Central Asian states and their societies. The aim of this chapter is to explain why and how images about foreign policy actions in infrastructural development assist in securing regional geopolitics, by evaluating China’s visual communication about the Belt and Road Initiative. It builds on the concept of “ontological security”, in which individual states seek a consistent sense of the “Self” by narrativizing foreign policy actions. Strategic narratives on infrastructural development then align the narratives of the Self (China) with narratives of a desirable regional order. Using a visual analysis, infrastructural development narratives in the visual communication of the Belt and Road Initiative circulated in China Daily news articles are identified and explained. This study develops strategic narrative theory by analysing identity narratives through the lens of ontological security, as well as using concepts of utopia (continuity of society in time) and geopolitics (presence of society in space and regional context) to show how such an identity narrative and sense of ontological security is anchored through the representation of space and time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOne Belt, One Road, One Story?
Subtitle of host publicationTowards an EU-China Strategic Narrative
EditorsAlister Miskimmon, Ben O'Loughlin, Jinghan Zeng
Place of Publication[S.I.]
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Edition1
ISBN (Electronic)9783030531539
ISBN (Print)9783030531522
Publication statusPublished - 26 Dec 2020

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in European Union Politics
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISSN (Print)2662-5873

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