The Belt and Road Initiative was announced by China in 2013, under the name of ‘One Belt, One Road’. In March 2015, the ‘Vision and Actions on Jointly Building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century maritime Silk Road’ was published and in May 2017 the first ‘Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF)’ was held in Beijing. Over the years, the initiative has generated a lot of controversy and a rich debate has been going on since its launch. While Chinese officials claim that the objectives of the BRI are in line with liberal principles and the existing international order, many observers and foreign governments have criticised it. In particular, India and the U.S. have described it as a revisionist scheme to employ predatory economic in order to increase China’s influence on vulnerable countries and gain a position of leadership in the international order. Kenya joined BRI in 2017, when an economic and cooperation trade agreement was signed with China at the BRF. However, the partnership between China and Kenya precedes this date, and by then Chinese firms had already started financing major infrastructural projects in Kenya that became part of BRI, such as the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR), for which China extended a loan to Kenya as early as 2014. This thesis uses International Relations theories to establish how BRI projects in Kenya can best be explained, through a congruence analysis. The competing theories applied in this research are part of the realist and liberalist schools of thought. The evidence showed that defensive realism provides the best explanation of China’s motives behind and the impact of BRI projects in Kenya.

Dr. Pieter Tuytens, Prof.dr. Geske Dijkstra
Public Administration
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Nicoletta Martelli. (2022, June 30). DRIVERS AND IMPACT OF CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE. Public Administration. Retrieved from