Belt, Road and (Legal) Suspenders: Entangled Legalities on the ‘New Silk Road’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a central part of China’s 13th five-year plan, an ambitious program of infrastructure project finance in sixty-five countries, to the tune of US$1 trillion over twenty years. Geopolitically, this might be the most important global governance initiative since the end of the first cold war. But what does it mean for law? Surely it exemplifies entangled legalities. It means different things to the investment protection lawyer at MOFCOM in Beijing, the public procurement regulator in Greece, the law firm partner in Kazakhstan, insurgents in Balochistan and judges in constitutional courts and the European Court of Human Rights. Focusing on actors as nodes of entanglement, this chapter argues that structures of practice as well as cognitive limitations and sociological factors keep law’s engagement with complexity enmeshed but separate, along the lines of (most obviously) national law, but more so along the lines of policy issues and the object-oriented nature of distinct legal fields. The chapter narrates – hypothetically – different views of actors engaging with the BRI to demonstrate the parallel phenomena of separateness and entangledness, and the inevitable interdependence of entangled legal strands, examining the Belgrade–Budapest rail project as a case study. In addition, it emphasizes the close connection between legal entanglement and non-hierarchical, imperial designs.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEntangled Legalities Beyond the State
EditorsNico Krisch
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Electronic) 1-108-91048-3, 1-108-90658-3, 1-108-91464-0
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameGlobal Law Series
PublisherCambridge University Press


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