Negotiating coastal infrastructures: An evolutionary governance theory (EGT) approach to Chinese high-modernist development along the Indian Ocean
What is known today as the Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI) was first proposed in fall 2013 by China’s President Xi Jinping in a keynote speech to the Indonesian parliament in Jakarta and has since drawn immense geopolitical and economic attention. The stated goal of the large-scale initiative is to strengthen maritime connectivity between China, Asia, Africa and Europe by infrastructural development, particularly of ports, oil transshipment terminals and Special Economic Zones. Based on the initial review of policy documents and widely published strategic visions of the Maritime Silk Road, the paper aims to explore, on the one hand, the conceptual foundations and policy mechanisms behind China’s large-scale development projects in coastal areas along the Indian Ocean. On the other, the paper by drawing on an empirical example from Sri Lanka seeks to take an evolutionary governance theory (EGT) perspective towards on-the-ground implementation of these policies. By doing so, the study highlights the impact of interconnected formal and informal institutions and discourses, in transforming Chinese engagement. The contribution therefore seeks to reflect upon particular Chinese patterns of high-modernist developmental governance in coastal places and their local social and political negotiation and materialisation.