Belt, Road and (Legal) Suspenders: Entangled Legalities on the ‘New Silk Road’

The Belt and Road Initiative, formerly known as the “New Silk Road” is a central part of the People's Republic of China’s 13th 5-year plan and geo-politically, this might be the most important global governance initiative since the end of WWI. But what does it mean for law? Surely it is an exemplar of entangled legalities. Focusing on the role of distinct actors as nodes of entanglement between different legal orders, this chapter argues that structures of practice as well as cognitive limitations and sociological factors keep law's engagement with complexity enmeshed but separate, along the lines of (most obviously) national law, but more so along the lines of policy-issues and the object-oriented nature of distinct legal fields. The chapter narrates – hypothetically, though firmly based in reality – different views of actors engaging with the Belt and Road Initiative, and it emphasizes the close connection between legal entanglement and non-hierarchical, imperial designs.