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China's growing economic power has been identified as a major factor in generating profound transformations in the strategic landscape in Asia. Beijing's interest in using its economic power for the pursuit of geopolitical objectives remains strong. Many analysts believe that the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) represents the continuation and even intensification of that interest. I unpack the role of China's economic power in its external relations by focusing on how Guangxi, a subnational government in China, has facilitated the emergence of the BRI. My study suggests that in-depth knowledge about local governments' activism in socioeconomic engagements with neighboring countries contributes significantly to a more nuanced understanding of China's power, particularly its economic power in Asia.