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‘One Belt, One Road’ - An Opportunity for the EU’s Security Strategy

by Jikkie Verlare & Frans Paul van der Putten (Clingendael Institute)

China’s initiative for a modern-day silk road, known as ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR), aims to connect Asia, Africa, Europe and their near seas. Under the definition contained in Xi Jinping’s New Security Concept stating that ‘development equals security’, OBOR can be conceptualized as the most ambitious infrastructure-based security initiative in the world today. This has major implications for geopolitical relations and stability in various regions. It would be beneficial for the European Union (EU) member states to invest in a common response to OBOR, as opposed to engaging with this initiative primarily at the national level. This Clingendael Policy Brief explores how the EU’s existing policy tools and frameworks might be used for enhanced Sino–European security co-operation in relation to OBOR.  It is argued that if the European Union works with China under the framework of the EU–China strategic partnership, to align with, inter alia, the planned restructuring of its European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as projects included under its European Maritime Security Strategy and Partnership Instrument to link with the so-called ‘Belt’ and ‘Road’ projects, this would entail true added value for the EU. These steps should be part of the EU’s new Global Strategy for Foreign Policy and Security, which is due to be published in June 2016. This would go beyond the tendency of EU member states to compete for the benefits of increased Chinese investments on their own territories, but instead embed China’s initiative in the common European strategic goal of gaining a larger security footprint in neighbouring regions…

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