With a rigorous success in trade and business for decades, China has initiated new mega project named “One Belt One Road” (OBOR) in mid-May 2017 in Beijing. The trillion dollars project aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa via business and infrastructure. During the two-day forum held in Beijing, Xi Jinping has been succeeding to gather 65 country’s supreme leaders and numbers of delegates from all over the world. In the article, we are going to discuss various aspects of The Chinese new project One Belt One Road
It is “One Belt One road” which has two dimensions of the model. The Economic Silk Road connecting western China to Europe via the Middle East and Russia, another one is 21st Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China to Gulf region via the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. The “One Belt One Road” is the modern version of ancient Silk Road connecting China with Roman Empire. The road was famous for silk export. That’s why it has been known as Silk Road. It is said that Ferdinand von Richthofen – a well-known German geographer named it.
Recently, the idea was first raised by Xu Shanda, a former deputy director of the State Administration of Taxation, who proposed in 2009. Then Xi Jinping initiated the project formally during the visit to Indonesia in 2013.
One Belt One Road: the game for new China-oriented globalization
Since World War II ended, the world has been regulated with the neoliberal order. The United States has cherished its foreign policy with promoting democracy to defeat communism. Along with its political agenda, it has gained its trade and business interest in the name of “open market” or liberal flow of capital. The Bretton Woods Institutions have promoted the US policy over time. There are lots of critics that those institutions didn’t reduce poverty rather it made countries poorer than ever. Most of the developing countries have been bounded with debt-chains. On this circumstance, China’s proposed Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) have challenged US-backed World Bank and IMF. It is also a sister concern of “One Belt One Road” project which has already broke US western allies. UK and Australia have already joined the bank despite US allegation. Moreover, Xi Jinping could be prudent with the lesson of economic depression in 1930 and 2008-2009. The economic experience tends him to grab the current economic deficit of this region and the “One Belt One Road” could be the pre-cautious steps to combat overflow of production in the local market. That’s why the “One Belt One Road” is the crying need for China’s economy. On the other hand, Asia needs more capital for its upcoming infrastructural development. According to a report by Asian Development Bank (ADB), the region needs 3 trillion USD and 290 billion USD for its economic efficiency. So, China has no longer wait to take the chance.
The Geopolitics over One Belt One Road project
There are multi-dimensional geopolitical games under “One Belt One Road” initiative. Jin Liqun, President of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) said “This is more a strategic, geopolitical issue. It boils down to one single objective- peace and prosperity for people”. Skeptics say that the project would be “One Belt One Road One Hegemone” and some others say that it would be like post-World War II Martial Plane which the US initiated to support Eastern European counties to include its sphere of influence. Tough the project is focused on infrastructural engagement visibly; the geopolitical games are also remaining inherently. The first geopolitical game is including Arabian countries despite China has good relations with Iran. The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia has stated his optimistic opinion to the project. The UAE, Kuwait and Gulf countries are also similar to their opinion. But, the question remains that how can Xi Jinping include both Iran and Saudi Arabia when they are snakes and nails. And Trump’s recent tour to Suadi Arabia and his anti-Iranian speeches facilitate Iran to the greater enclosure to China indeed. The second geopolitical game is India which didn’t join the Beijing meeting. India claims that “One Belt One road” is unacceptable as it is designed across Kashmir. India didn’t join saying that it couldn’t recognize any plan hampering “State Sovereignty”. There is another aspect of India’s disinterest. India suspects that China’s plan is to “One Belt One Road” are actually reducing China’s dependency on the Indian Ocean.
Why India is skipped from the project
India is absent from China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) over sovereignty issues over the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Gopal Baglay, the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “Regarding the so-called ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’, which is being projected as the flagship project of the OBOR, the international community is well aware of India’s position. No country can accept a project that ignores its core concerns about sovereignty and territorial integrity.” He further added, “Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity.” On the other hand, India’s historical counterpart Pakistan is closed to China. China already invested in Pakistan to connect Gwadar Port. Pakistan’s Minister for Planning, Development and Reform Ahsan Iqbal says the proposed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will turn bilateral “friendship into a strategic economic partnership.” Finally, time will determine India’s position. Does India take it a new opportunity escaping historical legacy or it will remain detached from the project?
The myths regarding One Belt One Road
Some of the readers may think that it’s just an economic project. But the real scenario is that it the project is including the exchange of culture, education, technology and crimes also! Another myth is that it’s a new project. But it’s really new version of ancient Silk Road. Some others think that it will be no more than a supranational authority like EU. But analyzing the scenario we can say that it won’t be like that. The geography, history and political culture of EU and the One Belt One Road are different. There is no chance of “national dignity” or “national superiority” for any particular nation.
How Trump’s activities help Xi Jinping!!
Donald Trump’s conservative and isolate activities help Xi Jinping’s ambitious project One Belt One Road. After the victory, Trump appeared to be the separate United States from joint work. He has separated from Trans-Pacific Partnership. Meanwhile, China boosted its trade and business through Asia and Africa. It has exaggerated its grants and loans to developing countries. For example, Xi Jinping’s visit to Bangladesh, he concluded more than 25 bilateral treaties and granted 23 billion USD. China has now signed memoranda with more than 40 countries, cooperation agreements with more than 40 countries in the belt and road region and industrial capacity cooperation agreements with more than 30 countries. On Trump’s first visit to the Middle East, his accusation to Iran facilitate Xi Jinping to convince Iran more than ever because Iran is important for One Belt One Road project. as the world’s last major communist-ruled nation, China needs friends and political allies to offset its post-cold-war ideological isolation following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Soviet client states in Central and Eastern Europe in the early 1990s. Beijing also wants to restore its leadership status in the developing world by reviving the non-aligned movement. Besides, China aims to maximize its foreign allies where Trump’s activities are acting as a catalyst!
Critical Analysis: Challenges and Questions
No doubt the project is the demand of time for a world more specifically for Asia. There is more manpower in the region but lack of regional connectivity. China’s project will fill up the gap gradually. But the challenge waiting is instability and security. The route drawn for One Belt One Road project is highly vulnerable. As 12000 armed forces are protecting China’s Gwadar Port via Pakistan. The Kashmir and Kazakh corridor is not stable yet. The South China Sea is also being the apple of discord for many countries day by day. So, it will be the worst situation if instability spoils all the fruits.
The second critics to China are that it has a record of low-quality production in abroad. It short durable has troublesome and some countries decided not to import Chinese machinery. Thus, China has to ensure a quality product to have the reliability of countries.
The last challenge is the Middle East. Will China actually arrange all Gulf countries to sit at a table?? Already the region has become tensed on Qatar. Iran and Saudi relations are a big fact to gain regional consensus. So, to have the project implemented China has to move up consciously.
Student, International Relations
The University of Chittagong.