Middle Kingdom Enters Middle East
A World-Systems Analysis of Peripheralization along the Maritime Silk Road Initiative
Through the lens of world-systems analysis, this research argues that Beijing is creating a miniature world-system overlapping with the United States-led world-system via its Belt Road Initiative (BRI). Although China has not yet become a core power, its BRI seems to possess the qualities of a new world-system in the making, within which China enjoys hegemonic traits such as economic and military might and capable alternative institutions. This BRI-bound world-system consists of BRI participant states whose areas and processes are being molded to better fit China as core and hegemon; a phenomenon known as peripheralization. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) appears to be peripheralizing Arab states into this BRI-bound world-system through China’s growing economic dominance of the region and promotion of new modi operandi. After arguing the emergence of the BRI-bound world-system and establishing China’s peripheralization capacity, Lebanon is taken as a case study of a peripheral MENA state to illustrate how predominant Western hegemony can hamper China’s peripheralization apparatus, forcing it to choose areas/processes of the highest immediate relevance for focused peripheralization efforts.
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