The new silk road, or How China wants to unite everyone
Material posted: Publication date: 03-03-2018
It has been more than three years since Chinese President XI Jinping, speaking at Nazarbayev University in Astana, first mentioned the idea of creating an economic belt of the silk road. During this time about the concept, which is now called the "one belt and one road", learned and spoke in many countries. Moreover, in the next two days the leaders of about 30 countries, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as thousands of experts, representatives of international organizations will gather in Beijing at an international forum to discuss ways of implementing this idea.

The attitude of the Chinese concept of the construction of the economic belt of the silk road, which remains quite vague in the world. China sees this as a chance for the promotion of global economic cooperation that will redound to the benefit of all involved countries. Skeptics see Chinese initiative hegemonic plans and the desire to increase its influence, comparing it with the Marshall plan.

The beginning of the path

In September 2013, when XI Jinping in his speech, Recalling the history of the ancient silk road, also talked about the need to improve cross-border transport infrastructure, the willingness of China to participate in the creation of transport networks, connecting Eastern, Western and southern Asia, which would create favorable conditions for economic development of the region. The Chinese President also spoke about the advisability of simplification of rules of trade and investment to eliminate trade barriers, increase the speed and quality of economic operations in the region.

The whole idea of "one belt and road" is the creation of infrastructure and fostering linkages between the countries of Eurasia. It includes two key areas of development: economic zone of the silk road and the Maritime silk road. We are talking about creating a trade corridor for direct delivery of goods from East to West on favorable terms. This economic corridor should connect Asia-Pacific region in the East of the developed European countries in the West. The population of the countries involved has more than 3 billion, and total GDP of about 21 trillion dollars.

The initiative involves the creation of six components of economic corridors: Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar-China-Mongolia-Russia, China-Central Asia-West Asia, China is the Indochinese Peninsula, China-Pakistan economic corridor and the Eurasian land bridge. The goal is to be achieved through the construction of roads, ports, bridges and other infrastructure, as well as the conclusion of agreements on free trade zones.

In 2014, China has announced that it will allocate $ 40 billion for the creation of a silk road Fund that will provide financing for projects "belt and road". In addition, in January 2016 in the renovated China-initiated Asian infrastructure investment Bank.

According to reports and estimates by the Chinese media, since 2013, more than 100 countries and international organizations responded positively to the initiative. It has signed about 50 intergovernmental agreements on cooperation. Chinese companies invested about 50 billion and built a 56 areas of trade and economic cooperation in 20 countries "belt and road", creating a total of 180 thousand jobs for residents of those States.

The Deputy head of the state Committee for reforms and development of NIN Czechia in advance of the forum said that the total foreign investment in China in the next five years will be about 600-800 billion dollars. The bulk of investment goes to the countries along the "belt and road".

© RIA Novosti, Infographics. Economic development strategy of "One belt and one road"

"For" and "against"

Despite the seemingly noble goal of China, some Chinese experts have called the initiative the "belt and road" "a modern version of the American Marshall plan" that aims to spread its influence and hegemony.

The main organ of the Chinese Communist party newspaper "people's daily" published comments in response to this stated that "Western commentators with biases of the cold war look at the initiative.

"Initiative "Belt and road", focused on responsibility, win-win cooperation and sincere aspiration to joint development, gave the world the response of China to the challenges of modernity, a balanced, fair and comprehensive model development... Openness, inclusiveness and mutual benefit — especially the initiative "Belt and road", through which it gained the support of the international community", — writes the edition.

Many European countries have openly expressed support to the initiative "belt and road", including the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Britain became the first developed Western economies wishing to join the AIIB.

Leaders of several EU countries have confirmed their participation in the forthcoming forum. However, according to the newspaper South China Morning Post, citing European diplomats in Beijing, they themselves are bad, which means the idea of China, and agreed to participate in order not to spoil relations and get more information about the project. "It's been three years since then, as XI Jinping announced a new initiative, but we're still trying to figure out what it means and what should we do with her?" — quoted a European diplomat who wished to remain anonymous.

European diplomats, the newspaper writes, claim that leaders of their countries do not have high expectations for the results of the upcoming summit. They just want to learn more about this initiative.

Aside from the Chinese project remains the United States with its main ally in Asia – Japan. Neither the United States nor Japan has not joined the AIIB and the leaders of these countries also will not attend the upcoming forum. Only on Friday it became known that the US decided to send a representative and they will be an employee of the national security Council, responsible for Asia, Matthew Pottinger.

The expert of the international discussion club "Valdai", the Director of the Institute of history, archaeology and Ethnography of peoples of Far East Feb RAS Viktor Larin believes that the project "one belt, one road" is more geopolitics than Economics.

"I believe that the project "One belt and one road", especially, geo-political, and then economic. Second, as an economic project, it is aimed primarily at the development of the Western regions of China. Thirdly, it is too early to expect concrete results because it has been very little time. Fourth thesis: the project if we consider the Chinese foreign policy is a continuation of the same policy: the policy of openness of Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin's policy under the slogan "to go outside". As China's growth he needs more markets, more raw materials. It is one and the same idea, which today received a new, quite good shape — the "one belt and one road", — said the Larin RIA Novosti.

According to the expert, "at the Chinese project is more geopolitics than Economics, because the main idea of the geopolitical doctrines of China is a peaceful environment, a peaceful environment, you can create a primarily economic methods — China 100% sure". According to Larin, the same interested and Russia. This is the point of contact. When you have specific interests, they sometimes do not coincide and diverge. However, they are consistent in the negotiation process.

Head of the programme "Russia in Asia-Pacific," Carnegie Moscow center Alexander Gabuev, in turn, noted that China does not impose the neighbouring countries the project. "It is based on the fact that in China there is a big economic power, vast reserves of capital, vast experience in construction of infrastructure, large markets, etc. And he is ready to give the world to develop together", — said in an interview with RIA Novosti Gabuev.

Answering the question, whether justified concerns that the project silk road would benefit only China, he expressed the opinion that it will "depend on the skill of the negotiators and how they are able to defend their economic interests."

Russia on the Silk road

Newspaper China Daily published intelligence data have put Russia into first place in the list of most friendly to the Chinese initiative "belt and road" of foreign countries.

In may 2015 the leaders of Russia and China adopted a joint Declaration on the pairing of the two concepts — the concept of building economic belt of the silk road and the concept of development of the Eurasian economic Union.

Gabuev said that the expectations of the Russian side on the implementation of the Chinese project silk road is not justified. "Russia is still in the "belt and road" didn't see that much because of all the expectations that will come plenty of cheap money or politically motivated money did not materialize," — said the expert RIA Novosti.

According to gabuyeva, "only where large investments went into Russia, it is an investment in Yamal LNG, SIBUR and through the silk road Fund, but it is rather China used the Fund as a financial wallet that is not associated with the global financial system, and immune from us sanctions." He noted that talks are underway to conclude agreements on the reduction of non-tariff barriers between the Eurasian Union and China, but "they (the talks) will go a few years."

How, in turn, said Larin, Russia and China have a common idea of cooperation in the framework of a unified economy, but specific projects, "harder." "With specific projects is harder. There are regular, ongoing attempts to find one, the second, fifth, twentieth points of contact and through specific projects to move to a larger goal," he added.

Executive Secretary of the Business Council of the Shanghai cooperation organization Sergey Kanavsky believes that the construction of a new silk road in the future, opens up great potential for Russia.

"The potential is huge, the potential is vast and interesting. Then the question all in the initiative, in the elaboration, to protect their own interests, finding common ground for synergies, not fragmentation," said he in an interview with RIA Novosti. At the same time he reminded that the project is still under development, determining the main ways of development.

Overall Kanavsky noted that the Business Council of the SCO consider the initiative of establishing the economic belt of the silk road as part of the General trends of the Eurasian economic cooperation.


Tags: assessment , China