This dissertation examines whether a China-centric geoeconomic order is emerging today. It lays out an ideal type theory based on the notion of empire as a hub-and-spokes structure of interstate relations, and it theorizes the inherent power dynamics of empires, how empires manifest in different ways, and the factors that drive or impede imperial development. The author then uses this theoretical framework to study contemporary geoeconomic ties between China and its neighbors, focusing on trade, infrastructure investments, and currency ties, and combining statistical analyses with case studies. In the dissertation’s main analysis, the author maps the pattern of railroads being financed and built by Chinese entities abroad in order to demonstrate how these lines of connectivity cement China’s central position in a network of transportation infrastructure. The role of currency internationalization and digitalization in China, and the impact of Covid-19 on China’s rise is also assessed. The author concludes that a China-centric geoeconomic order is indeed emerging in Asia, although its incomplete nature makes it more hegemonic than imperial for the time being.
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