Under the leadership of Xi Jinping, China converts into a pro-activist architect of the international order - coupled with a huge dose of self-confidence. This change is all the more noteworthy as the country had for long (passively) benefited from the effects of globalization and the rule-based liberal world order. As President Xi emphasized at the 13th National People's Congress in March 2018, "China will continue to actively participate in the reform and construction of the global governance system, contribute more Chinese wisdom, Chinese proposals, and Chinese strength to the world (...)". Thus, Xi's China aims to take initiatives, set the agenda in bilateral as well as multilateral relations and wants others to respect the Chinese perspective of global politics. 

The most prominent examples for this development are Xi Jinping's announces of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road in September and October 2013, which are today labelled as China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). BRI is not an expression of the EU model for regional governance.It operates with differing notions of geographic or functionalist space not bound to a rather fixed understanding of (world) regions; the reference of economic corridors, transit regions (or cities), the creation of economic hubs or technical ecosystems underscores the introduction of a distinct spatial language - and once they are all interconnected - the (potential) practice of new geographic imaginaries.


In this lecture, Godehardt engages with a critical geopolitical perspective asking how China's foreign policy under Xi Jinping makes geography; or, in other words, how it spatialize international politics. Hence,  Godehardt is interested in the relation between politics, discourse and space, particularly how the Chinese discourse on BRI organizes the space of international politics and (potentially) produces a new "set of spatial structures", a geographic imaginary or meta-geography, "through which people order their knowledge of the world" (Lewis/Wigen 1997, ix).


Nadine Godehardt is the Deputy Head of the Research Division Asia at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP) in Berlin. She frequently travels to Asia and has worked extensively on China’s Belt and Road Initiative as well as China’s role in Central Asia. In 2014 she published »The Chinese Constitution of Central Asia. Regions and Intertwined Actors in International Relations« with Palgrave Macmillan. Since 2015 she is co-editor of the Book Series »Routledge Studies on Challenges, Crises and Dissent in World Politics«. Currently, she is also part of a joint research project with ETH Zurich and University of Geneva on »Which region? The politics of the UN Security Council P5 in international security crises«. Since 2015, Nadine is further engaged in collaborative research about the relationship between urban space, design, (in)security and international politics with ANCB the Aedes Metropolitian Laboratory in Berlin. She is further deeply interest in questions regarding the relationship between visuality and global politics that are also reflected in her most recent publications on »Urban spaces. Protests. Global Politics«