The Chinese dream of the Belt and Road initiative

By Toumert Al Source:Global Times Published: 2017/4/12 19:23:39

Illustration: Peter C. Espina/GT

When Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the One Belt and One Road (B&R) initiative in 2013, as a researcher I was very keen to understand the concept, decipher its objectives and comprehend its implications in China and globally.

The B&R initiative has two components: land and maritime routes.

The primary objective behind the B&R initiative is to create connectivity, a structured logistic chain linking China and its core interest areas, by reviving ancient Silk Road routes through Eurasia, the South China Sea, the Middle East and East Africa.

Then again, the Belt and Road initiative is not a mere repetition of history. This is a vision of China under Xi's leadership and a mature system of governance. A vision that places China where its destiny has always been: a great nation with real impact on the progress of human civilization.

China, since the late 1980s, has developed its capacity to lead the world economically. Being ranked the second-largest economy in the world is not a matter of chance or unforeseen circumstances. It is a matter of a vision, of a strategy well applied, and is coupled with patience and milestones, not just hard work.

Xi has a vision, a clear strategy to boost China to not only integrate in the world, but to integrate the world with China's drive.

The world is a complex environment with sophisticated systems, and bringing countries together, bringing people to understand each other and bringing economies to complement each other is a huge task that China sees as its core mission and goal.

With the B&R initiative, China has a vision of bringing stability, peace, cooperation and prosperity through integrating diversified core interests to the Belt and Road initiative, with the objective of making actors at the national or international level aware of the potential of a shared Chinese dream.

These reflections lead us to question why it should be China not the US, Russia or Europe that should shoulder this vision.

Indeed I would like to use the term mandate, not from heaven, but a mandate from the poorer half of the world's population whose wealth combined is equal to the 62 richest billionaires.

China is an example of a modern state that has positively incorporated with grace into the new world, not to strengthen China as a nation, but to bring Chinese citizens from the brink of poverty to a prosperous life. In a matter of 70 years, China offered a different pathway for humanity and governance with regards to its commitment to the wellbeing of its citizens and sharing wealth and success.

Today everyone is looking to Chinese tourists to spend their money in their countries, looking for Chinese investors, and even having high hopes that China will take the lead in cementing the gains of a global order.

Suffice to say the forgotten citizens of the world give the mandate to Xi to elevate their opportunities of realizing the Chinese dream through establishing the B&R initiative.

Finally I would like to explore the philosophy behind the Belt and Road initiative. We cannot and should not simplify the initiative to a corridor of commerce. It is much bigger than that - the B&R initiative is China expressing its deepest ideological and cultural pillars to the world.

Today humanity is advancing at a rapid pace, the world is in constant evolution and new paradigms of governance are being sought.

The B&R initiative is about making a real impact on local populations. The railways, roads, harbors, shipping lines are meant to win the hearts and minds of the general population, providing the structures needed to be part of a global local world. The initiative is not about building infrastructure, some would argue, it has a much higher meaning: building hope and building opportunities without prejudice.

The Belt and Road initiative is a vehicle with a higher goal, which is leading civilization through a Chinese dream of a better world.

The author is director of education at School of International Education, China Foreign Affairs University.


Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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