The contributions compiled in this issue engage in critical evaluation of China's "New Silk Road initiative" ("Belt and Road Initiative" [BRI]) by focusing on the potential long-term political and economic effects and implications for Sino-EUropean and Sino-African relations. The authors take the launching of the BRI (October 2013) as a starting point for a general, theory-guided qualitative re-evaluation of the basic patterns of Chinese foreign relations and global interactions under the fifth generation of Chinese political leaders. In 2013, the Chinese state president, Xi Jinping, framed BRI as a global connectivity network consisting of a multitude of overland passages and maritime transportation corridors. Xi Jinping's report to the 19th Party Congress (2017) set the BRI as an anchor concept of China's fine-tuned foreign strategy in the 21st century.
Nele Noesselt is professor of Political Science with a special focus on China and East Asia at the Institute of Political Science and the Institute of East Asian Studies (IN-EAST) at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany.