The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ Initiative

Last week, China revealed more details about the country’s plan to build the “One Belt, One Road,” a passage that will connect Asia with Europe and other countries in the west.

China has pledge $124 billion to support the massive project and the Chinese president Xi Jinping said that “what we hope to create is a big family of harmonious co-existence.”

“China is willing to engage in all-dimensional and broad- scoped maritime cooperation and build open, inclusive cooperation platforms with countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, promoting mutually beneficial “blue partnerships” and forging a “blue engine” for sustainable development, according to the document,” writes the Economic Times. “China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) includes a maze of roads like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, and the Maritime Silk Road.”

ICBC Asia has so far invested HK$20 billion (US $2.56 million) in China’s 32 projects, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI.) Xi has said the country is committed to spend $900 billion to fund the project.

“These projects are scattered in countries including Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, India, Indonesia and Australia,” said Jiang Yisheng, the chief executive of ICBC Asia. “And they mainly involved infrastructure building such as ports, electricity [power stations] and transportation in the Asia-Pacific region.”

The scope of the project presents a challenge. It’s anticipated to cost at least $1 trillion and it will have to be funded by multiple countries.

The former New Zealand Prime Minister Jenny Shipley is impressed by the BRI so far.

China’s initiative “has gone out of the blocks and onward much more quickly than most global institutional ideas,” said Shipley after attending a conference in the Chinese city of Hangzhou a few weeks ago. “It’s not only the quality of the idea but the speed with which capital and resources are now being deployed.”

China hopes to increase its influence beyond Asia, while also promoting economic growth.

Not all countries are supportive of China’s BRI. India was not on of the 19 countries in attendance at China’s Belt and Road Forum that was held in Beijing last month.

“But India, an emerging economy that shares a contested border with China, worries about containment and new pathways for aggression from Pakistan. Other nations wonder if hegemonistic designs are hidden behind the rationality of connectivity and trade. The policy initiative aims to enhance China’s centrality in the global economic unilateral approach. But how the project is conceived and implemented so far belies the rhetoric of multilateralism emanating from Beijing,” writes Quartz.

The president of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China criticized the BRI saying it has “been hijacked by Chinese companies, which have used it as an excuse to evade capital controls, smuggling money out of the country by disguising it as international investments and partnerships.”

Author’s note: China has proven that it’s serious about recreating the Silk Road. Could China be the next great power? This massive project is perhaps equivalent to the Eisenhower national highway program, which influence significant economic growth in the U.S. back in the day. The Silk Road would integrate the trade networks for most of Asia, making China the top dog in not only the region, but perhaps the world.

About Kerry Lear

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