the Belt & Road Initiative?
The Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI) was launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. The
Belt refers to the land-based “Economic Belt of the New Silk Road”, and the
Road to “the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road”. The BRI is inspired
by the ancient Silk Road, and is intended to build completely new, or expand existing
infrastructure and trade corridors on a transcontinental scale connecting China
and East Asia to Europe and Africa, with possibilities for future connection to
the Americas (see map on pages 2-3). Beside railways, highways, ports, sea
lines, oil and gas pipelines, the BRI includes new aviation routes,
telecommunication cables and cooperation in space. The aim is to enhance
connectivity among continents and regions to promote economic growth, trade,
people-to-people cultural exchange and peaceful economic cooperation.
New principles for international relations:
Win-win and mutual benefits for all participants.
Credit for infrastructure and productive investments.
Non-interference in the internal affairs of economic and trade partners.
Respect for the cultural diversity of nations.
Reject geopolitics, zero-sum games, and spheres of influence.
Create “a community of shared future for mankind”, as President Xi
launching, more than 70 nations have joined the BRI. According to the European
Bank of Reconstruction and Development, these countries represent more than
half of the planet’s population (4.8 billion people). Their economies are worth
a total US$ 21 trillion, accounting for about half of the world’s GDP. US$ 1
trillion are already allocated for ongoing and planned projects. In the
September 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), held in Beijing, all
members of the African Union joined the initiative. The attracting feature of
the BRI, is China’s own economic development process and success in pulling 700
million of its own people out of poverty, making it a model for other
productivity & securing sustainability
One of the
main obstacles for development and raising the productivity of societies in
many regions of the world is the lack of basic economic infrastructure
(transport, power and water in addition to education and healthcare). That’s
why China is investing heavily in infrastructure projects in BRI partner
countries. This lesson has China learned from its own development process.
China’s economic miracle hinges on three decades of incredible
industrialization through investments in urban and rural infrastructure
projects, mega-projects in transportation, water and power. Within this period,
China has built 20,000 km of high-speed railways, surpassing the combined
network of the Western European nations. It has constructed the world’s largest
dams and longest irrigation canals. It has 37 operating nuclear power plants,
70% of which were built in the past decade alone, and a further 20 plants are
under construction. China has also developed an advanced and ambitious space
exploration program. These achievements have made China a world leader in many
sectors of construction and manufacturing. China has placed these capabilities,
in addition to its enormous financial clout amounting to US$ 3 trillion, behind
the BRI. It has also taken the lead in establishing international financial
institutions to provide credit for development projects like the Asian
Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), with a capital of US$ 100 billion and
the membership of 80 nations including Sweden, and The Silk Road Fund (US$ 40
Initiative belonging to all nations!
Chinese officials insist that the BRI is not a
Chinese exclusive club nor a Chinese Marshal Plan or aid program. It is what it
is called, “an initiative”, which means that every nation and economic power on
the planet can participate and benefit from it. China alone is not capable of
solving all economic problems in the world, and the technological and
industrial potential in the industrial sector nations is crucial for fulfilling
the goals of eradicating poverty and achieving sustainable development in the