China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) has attracted significant attention, based on expectations that it will have a transformative impact in fields ranging from economic integration to geopolitics. One aspect that has so far been mostly overlooked is the BRI’s impact on conflict dynamics in fragile states throughout Africa and Asia. These countries have been able to attract significant amounts of Chinese infrastructure investments despite the high levels of conflict risks. This may turn out to be a boon for reconstruction and development efforts and promote sustainable peace, but also carries the danger of exacerbating conflicts through an uneven distribution of costs and benefits, increased corruption or geopolitical tensions.
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