“Digital Silk Road” as a Slogan Instead of a Grand Strategy

Cheng, Jing and Zeng, Jinghan (2023) “Digital Silk Road” as a Slogan Instead of a Grand Strategy. Journal of Contemporary China. ISSN 1067-0564

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The rise of the Digital Silk Road has significantly shifted the focus of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This change in emphasis has produced sizeable political and academic analyses, considering that the Digital Silk Road is Beijing’s coherent top-down geopolitical—if not grand—strategy. This article challenges this view. By adopting a slogan politics approach, this article argues that the Digital Silk Road can be better understood as a vague political slogan. Far from a sophisticated top-level design, the rise of the Digital Silk Road was a result of economic and political struggles among domestic actors and the shifting socio-political landscape. This article also shows that Chinese domestic actors have (un)consciously interpreted the slogan of the Digital Silk Road in their preferred ways to advance their own agenda. Beyond nationwide support to echo the slogan, there is neither a coherent understanding nor a nationally concerted effort to advance a singular geopolitical objective, if there is any. Consequently, company-level interests and agendas, rather than a top-down geopolitical masterplan, have dominated the development of the Digital Silk Road.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Contemporary China
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? developmentpolitical science and international relationsgeography, planning and development ??
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Deposited On:
26 May 2023 08:00
Last Modified:
08 May 2024 00:23