China heralds resurgence through BRI | Daily News

China heralds resurgence through BRI

Chinese President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping

China is one of the world’s oldest civilizations bestowed with a splendid culture. The Yin Yang symbol is probably the most well-known symbol in East Asia. Yin Yang is an ancient Chinese philosophical thinking, a holistic and dialectical world view. One of the most important influences on Chinese everyday life was Confucianism in its many varieties.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) project

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global initiative building on the historic Silk Road, that puts a major focus on countries in Asia, Eastern Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. This is a region mainly composed of emerging markets. The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road connects China to Southeast Asia, Indonesia, India, the Arabian Peninsula, Somalia, Egypt and Europe, encompassing the South China Sea, Strait of Malacca, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Bengal, Arabian Sea, Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. For Asia alone, estimates by the Asian Development Bank (ADB, 2017) point to investment needs of around USD 26 trillion until 2030. China has driven strong growth at home and has shown itself prepared to put money into projects on a large-scale basis to develop infrastructure trade and other aspects of connectivity in the BRI. The BRI is impacting the global trade, investment and finance landscape in significant ways.

Belt and Road Initiative is a transcontinental long-term policy and investment programme which aims at infrastructure development and acceleration of the economic integration of countries along the route of the historic Silk Road. The Initiative was unveiled in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and until 2016, was known as OBOR – One Belt One Road. On March 28, 2015, the official outline for the Belt and Road Initiative was issued by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with authorization of the State Council. The PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world in recent times. China’s achievement has been a dazzling success. Since Deng Xiaoping initiated the ‘Open Door’ reforms in 1978 it has expanded by leaps and bounds. By the start of the new Millennium, China was hailed as a coming economic superpower.

Sustainable development

BRI aims to “promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents and their adjacent seas, establish and strengthen partnerships among the countries along the Belt and Road, set up all-dimensional, multi-tiered and composite connectivity networks, and realize diversified, independent, balanced and sustainable development in these countries.” Asia’s infrastructure financing needs widely exceed current and planned investments under the BRI. Addressing these needs will therefore remain an essential priority on the international development agenda. In particular, regions not lying within the current six BRI corridors will also require increased investment in infrastructure to support economic development and avoid the widening of geographical divides.

Solar power station in Guizhou Province, China.

The BRI is best summarized by Chinese President Xi: “China will actively promote international co-operation through the Belt and Road Initiative. In doing so, we hope to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity and thus build a new platform for international co-operation to create new drivers of shared development”. The latter involves education, cultural and scientific exchanges to help other countries learn from China’s development experience. As stated by China, the focus on connectivity within the BRI is both about facilitating trade and investment, and thereby development of neighbouring countries, as well as strategically shoring up its own security of energy, resources and food by taking a regional leadership role with its most important neighbours. It has a very broad scope encompassing economic, strategic and cultural connectivity.

Thinking about development in terms of economic corridors has been an important aspect of China’s development model. Infrastructure investment along the Belt and Road is concerned with six economic corridors covering a large energy- and resource-rich part of the world: 1.New Eurasia Land Bridge: involving rail to Europe via Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Poland. 2. China, Mongolia, and Russia Economic Corridor: including rail links. 3. China, Central Asia, West Asia Economic Corridor: linking to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, and Turkey. 4. China Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor: Viet Nam, Thailand, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Malaysia. 5. China, Pakistan Economic Corridor: Xinjiang Province will be most affected. This important project links Kashgar City with the Pakistan Port of Gwadar, a deep water port. 6. China, Bangladesh, India, Myanmar Economic Corridor.

Stakeholder countries

The Chinese government proactively promotes policy coordination, technology sharing and engineering co-operation with neighbouring countries in the protection and development of cross-border rivers. It has launched joint studies with the countries concerned on the protection and use of water resources of cross-border rivers, in order to better protect these resources. China encourages the sharing of hydrological data during the flood season.

With respect to food security “We will actively pursue agricultural co-operation and development overseas, establish large-scale offshore centres for farm product production. Processing, storage, and transportation, and cultivate internationally competitive multinational agricultural companies”. These motivations for food and energy security and regional development in the BRI intersect with each other and it will be important to ensure they are mutually beneficial. The strategy Made in China 2025 aims to encourage Chinese technology, equipment and engineering knowhow, which can also be adopted within the BRI in competition with advanced economies trying to do the same thing. To move up in the value added chain to 2025 and beyond, requires China to shift away from energy, heavy industry and construction, towards more sophisticated industries. This is a specific objective of the 13th Five-Year Plan.

The breakthrough industries for 2025 include: next generation IT; high-end digital control machine tools and robots; aerospace; oceanographic engineering equipment and high-technology shipping; advanced rail transportation; energy efficient and new-energy automobiles; electrical power equipment; agricultural machinery; high-performance structural metals and materials; biopharmaceuticals; high-performance medical equipment; and high-end equipment innovation projects. The BRI requires energy, and there is little doubt that China is leading the world in many energy technology areas, notably: ultra-high voltage lines, solar power cells; advanced wind power; hydroelectric developments; and batteries. The BRI will enhance the lives of all those stakeholder countries.

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