Earlier this year, the first direct freight train from China to the United Kingdom arrived at the terminal in Barking, in East London, bringing back containers loaded with various consumer goods. This train is called the East Wind ("the Wind from the East") was a distance of 12 thousand kilometers, crossing the borders of eight countries in 16 days, which is half the time required for delivery of these goods by sea. A few months later the train returned to China, bringing Scotch whiskey, pharmaceuticals and products for children on the giant wholesale markets in Yiwu city on China's East coast. Last year in Europe from China arrived 1 702 freight trains is two times more than in 2015.
This train got its name due to the famous saying of Mao Zedong. "Either the East wind overcomes the West wind or the West wind prevails the East wind," said Mao in 1957. After 60 years the current leaders of China are doing everything possible to wind from the East defeated the West wind. Trains across Eurasia, are part of their attempts to create a New silk road, which has become a modern incarnation of the ancient caravan routes that crossed the backside of the desert and steppe of Central Asia. The Chinese leadership is driven by the desire for economic power and national glory. Constructing and financing highways, Railways and ports, China's leaders literally strive to ensure that all roads lead to Beijing.
Geographic and economic scale of the New silk road is way ahead of her ancient namesake, which was an overland route used for the sole purpose of trade. Land-based New silk road involves the construction of new transport infrastructure and industrial corridors, stretching through Central Asia to the middle East and Europe. The sea he implies construction of new ports and the creation of trade routes through the South China sea in the South Pacific and across the Indian ocean to the Mediterranean sea. Beijing claims that its initiative to join around 65 countries, but not yet the final list.
This initiative actively promotes China's President XI Jinping, who for five years has been the strengthening of China's influence in the international arena. New silk road has become a Central element of his "Chinese dream", which he said in his first public speech as head of the Communist party when he visited the national Museum of China in Tiananmen square. After viewing the exhibition, which was to demonstrate how six decades of Communist rule has led China to prosperity after the "century of national humiliation", XI vowed to carry out "the great restoration of the Chinese people". It's the Communist version of the famous "again will make China great."
In October, the leaders of the party will meet at the 19th party Congress to decide who will rule China for the next five years and later. We already know that si will retain his post and what he intends to further strengthen its regime. Under his leadership, China became more gloomy and oppressive, but si could rightly say that his country is stronger than before, and that it became more respected in the international arena. Watching the weakening of the USA during Donald trump, si uses the economic power of China is to recover its historic position as the leading power in the region.
The new silk road is Central to the nationalist vision of the sea, and Beijing uses its economic power strategically. Funding and constructing transport infrastructure, pipelines and electricity, Beijing is trying to weave a network of economic dependencies and to draw other countries closer to itself. The interests of China, of course, considered first, but only a few poorly developed countries feel able to ignore his promise to build much-needed infrastructure. The only exception is North Korea, where the economic influence of China, the largest trading partner of this reclusive state, currently cannot compete with the nuclear threat and afterkitchen ambitions of Kim Jong-UN.
Key areas of the New silk road, such as ground cargo routes leading from China to Europe have already been built. According to Chinese officials, the volume of direct investments in 2015-2016 amounted to $ 30 billion, and Chinese companies have signed contracts for construction for a total amount of 189 billion dollars to more than 60 countries. However, there are many doubts about the safety and commercial viability of the route. According to some reports, the Pakistani authorities had to send 14.5 thousand employees of security services for the protection of 7 thousand Chinese nationals working on the creation of economic corridor. The threatening danger became apparent in may, when two Chinese language teacher was kidnapped and killed by armed men in Quetta — a remote, but this important corridor.
Freight trains plying between China and Europe, may be unprofitable, despite a lot of time saved in transit. Countries that have in the past been at odds with China, such as India and Vietnam, fear of the strategic implications of the Chinese infrastructure. Indian authorities condemned the construction of ports in the Indian ocean, particularly Sri Lanka and Pakistan, describing them as a platform for military expansionism — "string of pearls" around the neck of India. A military confrontation with China, which took place this summer at the disputed border in the Himalayas, further strengthened the suspicion India.
The threat of conflict between the Asian giants overshadowed the ninth annual summit of the five BRICS States — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — which starts in the Chinese port city of Xiamen on Sunday, September 3. Meeting of the si with the Prime Minister of India Narendra modi (Narendra Modi) may help to lessen the tension, however, the strategic rivalry between the two countries will continue.
In other parts of the Asia infrastructure diplomacy China is already yielding dividends in the Philippines — whose President Rodrigo Duterte (Rodrigo Duterte) at the end of last year, returned home from Beijing with a package of investment and trade contracts worth $ 24 billion, previously announcing the rupture with the United States — and Malaysia, whose Prime Minister Najib Razak (Najib Razak) called himself a "true friend" of China, signing contracts worth $ 34 billion. Small States, such as Cambodia and Tajikistan, is also largely dependent on China, which supplies them with vital goods and services.
The geopolitical weight of China is growing. After the Second world war, the dominant power in the Asia-Pacific region was the USA, but diplomatic failures trump's play into the hands of China. His decision to withdraw the U.S. from the TRANS-Pacific partnership — a trade Union the 12 countries for which China is not included — reduced the influence of Washington in the region. The idea of the TRANS-Pacific partnership was developed by the Obama administration in order to consolidate economic and diplomatic presence of the US in Asia at the expense of China. Now Beijing is promoting an alternative transaction, which involves China, but not USA.
Now, when the US under President trump takes place inside developing power, China is trying to replace them. Earlier this year at a forum in Beijing on the New silk road, XI called on members to avoid protectionism and to adopt a version of the global trade, which the Chinese propaganda calls "Globalization 2.0". Most of it is just a rant, but C leads to a serious diplomatic game. At that forum was attended by heads of 30 States is not as much as I would like to Beijing, but enough to ensure that si could put yourself in real international politics.
The Chinese leadership knows that there is still to do a lot of diplomatic work, as long as only a few countries are ready to believe in his diplomatic mantra of "mutual benefit". Simply put, Beijing is not trusted. However, its prudent economic diplomacy is much more bold, far-sighted and practical than any of its alternatives. When you trump the US has no coherent Asian policy, and they are no longer perceived as a reliable partner — even their regional allies. Japan still remains a major source of investment in Asia, but its economy is largely inferior to the Chinese economy, so it can't compete with him as an investor.
From the point of view of Britain, a show of force of China in Asia — is something very distant. If the New silk road will bring to the UK a few extra containers of cheap consumer goods, it will be great. However, we all feel the effects if the economic diplomacy of China will be effective. As shown by the decision of the publishing house Cambridge University Press adopted them this summer, to satisfy the request of Beijing about removing 300 politically controversial articles, economic power begets political power. Only international outrage prompted the oldest publishing house in the UK to abandon its decision. And economic pressure on the West to force him to obey the illiberal demands of Beijing will only grow.
In Asia and beyond China's rising power will create a lot of economic opportunities, but its political consequences can be very destructive. Mao predicted that the wind from the East sooner or later prevail against the wind from the West. If he was right, we all soon felt the power of the wind.
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