A first approach to discourse analysis: Has the Belt and Road Initiative sustainability goals?

When trying to understand and describe how China labels itself, it is useful to analyze the official discourse in relation to the Belt and Road Initiative. Hence, the International Institute for Asian Studies (2019) states -from a Foucaultian point of view- that China is also using the BRI to raise its discourse power to set a new global order, giving voice to developing countries and challenging the Western political agenda.

Does this discourse power include sustainability goals? Analyzing the speech of Xi Jinping at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation on the 14th May 2017 (Xinhuanet, 2017), the following strong statements were made:

  • “We need to seize opportunities presented by the new round of change in energy mix and the revolution in energy technologies to develop global energy interconnection and achieve green and low-carbon development
  • “We should pursue the new vision of green development and a way of life and work that is green, low-carbon, circular and sustainable. Efforts should be made to strengthen cooperation in ecological and environmental protection and build a sound ecosystem so as to realize the goals set by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.
  • “China has reached a new starting point in its development endeavors. Guided by the vision of innovative, coordinated, green, open and inclusive development, we will adapt to and steer the new normal of economic development and seize opportunities it presents. We will actively promote supply-side structural reform to achieve sustainable development, inject strong impetus into the Belt and Road Initiative and create new opportunities for global development”.