in place its quantitative easing policy (Fiano 2015; Tan 2015); Africa is seenas a new frontier market (Moghalu 2010; Napier 2010) and was recipient ofInternational Journal of Canadian StudiesRevue internationale d’e´tudes canadiennes- Elizabeth Cobbett <[email protected]> - Friday, April 20, 2018 1:38:05 PM - IP Address:184.108.40.206
35global flows searching higher returns on investment; and emerging economies,particularly Asian countries, are trading and investing more heavily in Africa(Nowak 2016; Taylor 2012). All of these factors, along with the continent’saverage growth of 4.5 percent over the past two decades (World Bank 2015),supports the observation that African economies are in fact (still) rising.InAdam Smith in Beijing, Arrighi (2007) revisits the rise of the West,its eclipse of China in the nineteenth century, the rise of US hegemony, andChina’s recent rise to greater centrality in the world economy. Working withdata from 700 locations around the world, Quah (2011) projects that theeconomic centre of gravity, the global ‘‘core,’’ will be located between Indiaand China by 2050. In 1980, the centre of gravity was the mid-Atlantic. Thisposition shored up what was to be an ‘‘end of history’’ moment of triumphantliberalism; however, the global economic passed over the West, reachingBucharest by 2008. China, as theFinancial Times’s chief foreign affairscommentator Gideon Rachman (2017) wrote in the wake of the nineteenthCommunist Party Congress in Beijing, is challenging the West on three fronts:ideological, economic, and geopolitical.These three fronts are clear in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).The BRI is a geopolitical plan, as well as an economic one, and it is, I argue,a large technical system (LTS). The importance of LTSs within global politicsis apparent through intersectionality with political authority, power, geo-politics, infrastructure, trade routes, military power, and territory. The BRIwill incorporate a variety of subsystems along its routes as it links Asia,Europe, Africa, and Oceania. Notable is the inclusion of East Africa as astrategic region for China’s new global trade and investment network. EastAfrican countries will act as gateways feeding into this LTS. What is theextent of competition, divergence, or convergence being generated throughChina’s initiative? In other words, countries deepening their integration intothe global economy, as is the case of African states, need to manage com-petition in the broader global context of geopolitical fragmentation broughton by new global powers.The twentieth century was marked, as noted by Freeland (2017) in herspeech, by the growth of liberal institutionalism. This places emphasis onthe role of common goals in governance and the ability of internationalorganizations to foster co-operation between states. If we turn to considermaterialism in global governance, as Mayer and Acuto (2015) suggest weneed to do, by moving LTSs to the centre stage of analysis, I contend thatwe need to consider China’s BRI as an emerging global system of politicaleconomic power that will operate alongside Western-led liberal regimes.