Belt and Road Initiative leading Sustainable Economic Prosperity
By Muhammad Zamir Assadi
Quickly recognized as an innovative and modern form of globalization, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has changed the concept of development, connectivity and inclusiveness based on policy communication, infrastructure connectivity, unimpeded trade, monetary circulation and understanding between ordinary people around the globe.
Belt and Road Initiative
In its 5th year, the well-understood and well-planned BRI, deriving from China’s reform and opening up policies, has paved the way for regional and global economic cooperation and connectivity.
An interesting and valuable fact witnessed by the international community was the introduction of the BRI into the constitution of Communist Party of China on the eve of the 19th National Congress.
The inclusion of the BRI in the constitution helped to answer the misrepresentations of hostile elements who oppose the sustainable development and its aim of creating long-lasting prosperity by portraying it as a modern version of the Marshal Plan.
President Xi assured in the work report that “China will never pursue development at the expense of others’ interests, but nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests. No one should expect us to swallow anything that undermines our interests. China pursues a national defense policy that is in nature defensive. China’s development does not pose a threat to any other country. No matter what stage of development it reaches, China will never seek hegemony or engage in expansion.”
The move showed the commitment of China to the world for smooth implementation and generating the maximum benefits for humanity and the future of ongoing development projects under BRI.
The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road has successfully laid emphasis on ways to renovate ports, upgrade shipping lines, and improve shipping capacity in the century of Sinicization.
It has been acknowledged that China is seeking to effectively avoid traditional risks of globalization and usher in a new type of ocean civilization featuring the integration of man and ocean, harmonious co-existence of countries and sustainable development.
The changing concept of development based on win-win has drawn the attention of the international community to the idea of building a shared future, proposed by President Xi Jinping in September 2013.
BRI is forging ahead in connecting various regions in a new and sustainable human civilization with the “five-in-one” notion of promoting economic, political, cultural, social and ecological development.
BRI is gearing up global development through a combination of railways, highways, aviation, navigation, oil and gas pipelines, transmission lines and communication networks.
The five factors of connectivity are boosting trade and investment; deeper economic and technical cooperation, establishing free trade zones, etc.
China’s emergence as a global leader has shaped its new strategic framework of all-round opening-up and peripheral diplomacy facilitated by BRI.
China’s Vision for the World
Mutual respect, trust, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation have been proposed as the common aspirations of all countries along the routes.
In those first five years, the Chinese government has been actively gathering support by enhancing communication, consultation and practical cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road trade routes.
World economic integration is accelerating and regional cooperation is on the upswing. The member countries along the BRI are taking full advantage of emerging bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms based on “one sum mentality”.
Financial integration has become an important pillar of the BRI. The results are deeper financial cooperation and more effort directed to building a currency stability system, investment system, financing systems, and credit information system in Asia.
The initiative has successfully helped to boost the scope and scale of bilateral currency swaps and settlements with other countries along the Belt and Road.
Settlements between the Chinese RMB and local currencies in the Belt and Road countries represent a major challenge to the Dollar and reduce the dependency of developing countries on the American currency.
Trade facilitation has geared efforts to remove investment and trade barriers and create a sound business environment within the region and all related countries.
The vision of the BRI has supported member countries to respect each other’s sovereignty and security concerns, and encouraged bilateral and multilateral trade deals.
It has emerged as a kind of umbrella which is pushing member countries to coordinate with their economic development strategies and policies for attaining regional and global development.
The emerging support for the BRI has been successful in promoting the connectivity of Asian, European and African countries and their adjacent seas by establishing and strengthening partnership among the countries along BRI.
The economies of countries along the BRI are becoming more closely connected with the second largest economy of the world, China.
The initiative is enabling China to further expand its opening up and to strengthen its mutually beneficial cooperation with countries in Asia, Europe and Africa and rest of the world, helping sustainable global development.
The BRI has enabled countries along Belt and Road to tackle the complex and profound changes taking place in the world.
It has been noted that the world economy is recovering slowly and global development is uneven.
In this complex economic situation, the initiative has laid solid foundations for a multi polar world, with economic globalization designed to uphold the global free trade regime and the open world economy in the spirit of open regional cooperation.
The unique inclusiveness of the initiative has generated phased development plans for key industries in different countries.
The grand and systematic program has encouraged investment and trade by creating a better business environment in member countries and forming a new matrix of economic cooperation cultivating the maximum benefit for humanity.
In the initial five years, Infrastructure is leading the construction drive which is resulting in the optimization of industrial structure and the common development of China and the other countries along the routes.
The successful implementation of BRI has been helping to revitalize economies along the route by readjusting the structural needs and upgrading industrial distribution.
The economic interdependence of developing countries is rising by decreasing the dependence on America and western countries.
In the last five years, the ambitious geopolitical initiative has covered around two-third population of the world spanning approximately 70 countries around the globe.
The glittering 1st Belt and Road summit hosted by China was attended by representatives of more than 110 countries and 30 head of states. It attracted international attention and generated a message of a new world order of global governance and economic globalization.
Since 2013, $60 billion invested under the BRI has nurtured infrastructural development and generated economic networks along various economic corridors.
China Pakistan Economic Corridor
Economic Corridors such as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the Bangladesh-China-India-Burma Economic Corridor (BCIM), the New Eurasian Land Bridge, and the China-Mongolia-Russia Economic Corridor (CMR) form the basic skeleton of the Silk Road Economic Belt on land.
Among them, CPEC focuses on oil transport, connecting the west of China with Europe, Africa, Middle East and other parts of the world, while BCIM focuses on trade with ASEAN. The New Eurasian Land Bridge is emerging as the main logistic route between China and Europe, while the CMR economic corridor forces on national security and energy development.
CPEC serves as a new path to reach South Asia from Xinjiang through Pakistan.
The coordination of CPEC and BCIM has been successful in bringing South Asia and South East Asia into the BRI.
CPEC has brought tremendous change to various sectors of Pakistan which have won the attention of the international community as a target for investment and to explore opportunities for bilateral cooperation.
The recent report released by the World Economic Forum ranked Pakistan at 47th position in the emerging economies of the world. This ranking was based on various indicators including inclusive development, living standards, and sustainable environment.
The smooth implementation of CPEC has strengthened these parameters which helped to change the growth model and encourage inclusive development in Pakistan.
Recognized as a flagship project of the BRI, CPEC strengthens and enhances commerce and trade ties between Pakistan and regional and non-regional countries.
The focus of international investors and reviving local industry has given Pakistan profile as a major country on the Belt and Road.
Strengthening economic indicators, building infrastructure on a mega scale, upgrading the rail network, investing in energy projects, and making progress on Gwadar port have all contributed to the target of creating more than 700,000 jobs in the next 15 years by boosting the GDP growth rate to 7.7%, the highest in the country’s history.
Based on the smooth progress gained over the last five years, the bright prospects for the future of the BRI are clear.
The author is a contributor to China.org.cn and CGTN, also columnist with cnmatters.com.
The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the view of China Matters.