Abstract: China's economic growth over the last thirty years has positioned it to project political and economic power across the world. In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping officially launched the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative, later re-branded as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with the goal of economically connecting China to the countries of the Greater Middle East through a new infrastructural network of roads and maritime ports. The Chinese government has reportedly already spent $250 billion on these projects and will spend up to $1 trillion more in the next decade, much of it in Muslim-majority countries. This project seeks to answer a number of questions about the economic, political and cultural implications of the BRI. What does the potential rise of a global trading bloc dominated by the authoritarian regimes of China and the Greater Middle East mean for the liberal economic order? How will the BRI impact the advancement of human rights in the Greater Middle East? What types of political tensions might arise between China and BRI target countries because of Chinese state economic investments? And how is a “rising China” viewed by the citizenries of countries in the Greater Middle East?
Bio: Lisa Blaydes is a Professor of Political Science at Stanford University. She is the author of Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Professor Blaydes received the 2009 Gabriel Almond Award for best dissertation in the field of comparative politics from the American Political Science Association for this project. Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Middle East Journal, and World Politics. During the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 academic years, Professor Blaydes was an Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies. She holds degrees in Political Science (PhD) from the University of California, Los Angeles and International Relations (BA, MA) from Johns Hopkins University.