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Lecture | LPEG research seminar

Neither ‘Revisionist’ nor ‘Status Quo’, both Statist and (Neo-)liberal Institutionalist: China’s Comprehensive Participation Approach in International Development Finance

Friday 18 November 2022

Verbarium (room 104, first floor)


Please register at least 4 days in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper and attendance details.

Why does China (continue to) engage with multilateral development finance institutions (MDFIs) despite the effectiveness in reaching national objectives through bilateral lending? In the existing literatures of international development finance, bilateral lending is regarded as Beijing’s tool for aggressive and self-serving outward expansion that challenges the liberal international order. Whereas the multilateral engagement is considered as China’s subjection to the western-led Bretton Woods system and thus a sign of Beijing being socialized into the liberal economic norms. Nevertheless, the dichotomy between describing China as either a ‘revisionist’ power or ‘status quo’ supporter does not explain its strategic engagement in bilateral and multilateral development activities simultaneously.

Instead of regarding China as a single entity, this paper shows how nuanced studies of key domestic Chinese actors’ objectives and actions in development helps us understand China’s attempts to fulfill both the state’s strategic goals and its duty in liberal international organizations. It specifically examines Chinese political leaders, ministry-level agencies, financial institutions, and enterprises’ involvement in overseas development, the challenges they face in bilateral lending, and how they pursue ‘efficiency’ and ‘strategic’ gains through engaging with the MDFIs. It demonstrates how the domestic Chinese actors adopt a comprehensive participation approach in international development finance.

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