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The City Diplomacy, Local Governments and China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Franklin-Wilkins Building, Waterloo Campus, London

12 Feb Chinese city by night

Speaker: Dominik Mierzejewski (Shanghai International Studies University)

In this seminar, Dominik discusses the rationale and adoption of the Belt and Road Initiative at the local level in China. He does so by analysing the evolution of role of local governments in Chinese foreign policy since the era of the opening up and reform after 1978, particularly post-2013 policy in China.

During this period, regional actors competed with each other and the central government was forced to react to local government and community needs in their foreign activities. In the end, this interaction between local and central governments led Beijing to shape more centralised policies towards regions. The growing role of municipalities in international relations has become an important trend that has shaped the new dynamics in global affairs.

By analysing Guangzhou’s para-diplomatical activities, Dominik aims to answer the quandaries of whether, and if so to what extent, Chinese provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities and other fields possess freedom and can act independently in planning, organising and managing their internationalisation processes. In fact, the opening up and reforms have resulted in intense competition amongst local authorities.

Taking Guangzhou as an example, Dominik discusses preconditions, plans and destinations of Guangzhou foreign actions. Using analysis of the city's bilateral and multilateral activities, as well as interviews, in Guangzhou at the city and provincial level, he explores the dual-usage of city diplomacy in China’s foreign policy, particularly to the Belt and Road Initiative.


Dominik Mierzejewski is the chair at Center for Asian Affairs (a university-based think-tank) and professor at the Department of Asian Studies of the Faculty of International and Political Studies at the Shanghai International Studies University (1999-2000, 2003-2004). He completed an internship in the Heritage Foundation (2003) and a Jan Karski scholarship by the American Center of Polish Culture (2003). He was a visiting professor to the Chinese Academy of Social Science granted by the Polish Foundation for Science (2010-2011), and a member of the European International Studies Association and European Association for Chinese Studies (board member 2008-2014). He was also vice editor in chief of 'Azja-Pacyfik' (yearbook), 'Journal of Contemporary Eastern Asia' (Austria/South Korea) and 'Sinologia Hispanica.'

His research focuses on China’s political development, the rhetoric of Chinese foreign policy and local governments involved in China’s foreign policy. He has published two monographs: 'Between Morality and Pragmatism: Deideologisation of the Rhetoric of China’s Diplomacy' (Lodz 2013) and 'China’s Selective Identities: State, Ideology and Culture' (Palgrave 2019), as well as dozens of articles published (e.g. in Singapore, the UK and the US).

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