Taiwan can be part of “One Belt, One Road”

By Liu Zongyi Source:Global Times Published: 2015-4-1 20:33:01

Since 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have proposed a series of interregional projects, such as the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Corridor, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor, the Silk Road economic belt and the 21st century maritime Silk Road. In addition to the update of China-ASEAN free trade zone, these projects can be generalized as the "One Belt, One Road" program.

"One Belt, One Road" has already been promoted as a national strategy, a significant part of China's overall diplomatic layout under new circumstances.

"One Belt, One Road" is a comprehensive arrangement which interconnects Western Pacific, Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East and Europe in terms of transportation, trade and business, and finance. According to Xi's vision, the "One Belt, One Road" program aims at establishing a global network.

Strategically speaking, the program has been devised to deal with the growing pressures imposed by the US, which is intent on advancing a rebalance to Asia-Pacific and setting up a new regional regulatory and investment treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But in regional cooperation, the "One Belt, One Road" program calls for collaboration and win-win spirit. It doesn't pursue an exclusive regional economic group.

Although in order to carry forward the program, the Chinese mainland has invested enormous money into the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road fund, it still can't change the primary goal of the program, which will serve as a regional platform for cooperation based on the current bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.

Thus, there won't be overlapping functions between the "One Belt, One Road" initiative and other partnerships and organizations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. On the contrary, it will inject new energy into current organizations.

Unlike the TPP, which will adopt a US-centered, hub-and-spoke interactive mechanism, "One Belt, One Road" advocates a two-way model based on an equal footing. As for the Chinese mainland, this program, on the one hand, can facilitate China to export goods, fund, technologies, and even its successful development model, and on the other hand, will draw experiences from overseas.

In the process of promoting "One Belt, One Road," Taiwan will be in an advantageous position. As an offshore island, Taiwan is a natural part of the maritime Silk Road, and its economy has been deeply integrated with the economy of the mainland.

Whether Taiwan can benefit from the program depends on whether it can make use of its competitive advantages. It has two prominent advantages, one of which is its mature and high-level service industry.

Taiwan boasts over 3,000 well-regarded brands in the service industry, while the mainland has only around 150. Taiwan's well-developed financial system can help the mainland streamline its layout of the AIIB and the Silk Road fund.

The other significant competitive advantage is Taiwan's extensive experience in international industrial transfer. Along with the advancement of the program, more and more mainland enterprises will seek ways to "go out" and transfer their excessive capacity. Taiwan's enterprises have decades of years of experience in international industrial transfer and are well aware of international laws and conventions. Collaboration between the mainland and Taiwan enterprises will benefit both sides.

The center of the global economy is shifting toward Asia. The "One Belt, One Road" initiative has indicated a new trend of global development. Taiwan's proactive involvement in the program and deeper engagement in cooperation with the mainland will herald a bright future for the Taiwanese.

The author is an assistant research fellow of Shanghai Institutes for International Studies and a visiting fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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