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BRI a driver of global development

The BRI will help all participants, not just China

There are two kinds of leaders; those who are born to create history and others who are catapulted into the leadership role by history. It is the first category of leaders whose vision and initiatives lift countries from the vicious circle of poverty and shape their future as world leaders. Deng Xiaoping was a leader who was born to create history. His vision to evolve China’s own version of socialism characterized by openness with a clear-cut goal of putting China on the road to sustainable development and improving lives of the people, has worked wonders. China over the last four decades has become the number two economic power of the world, poised to play a major role on the economic and political stage at the global level. Economists and political analysts believe that China would be the number one economic power of the world by 2050 and the indications are that no matter what the USA and its allies do to obstruct that process, it has become unstoppable and will achieve that distinction.

Over the last 40 years, the GDP of China has been growing at an average rate of 9.5 percent, which is phenomenal. The result is that China now accounts for 30 percent of global GDP. The reforms set in train in 1978 were premised on special economic zones in several provinces; introduction of a household responsibility system that allowed households to contract land, machinery and other facilities from collective organizations; the consolidation of state-owned enterprises and accession to the WTO in 2001. These policies boosted foreign investments exponentially besides encouraging entrepreneurship. The willingness of the Chinese leaders to implement pragmatic and impregnable economic policies enabled the country to escape the poverty trap and gave its 800 million people upper-middle-class income status.

However, notwithstanding the US hostility toward BRI and Indian opposition to CPEC, it is an irrefutable reality that China is destined to lead the world within the next two decades as its economic prowess and future potential amply suggest. Connectivity has become the buzzword of the 21st century, which has turned the tide against those who are vying to protect their vested global interest and resist the change

China’s rise to becoming the number two economic power has not only benefitted China and its people, but it has also helped many countries of the world in improving their economic profile through investments made by China. It is reportedly the third biggest source of foreign investment, with outflows touching the $125 billion-mark in 2017. This economic strength enabled China to dilute the impact of the financial crisis in Asia in 1997 as well as at the global level during 2008-9.

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The BRI initiative launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013 which aims to connect China with Asia, Europe and Africa via land and sea-based infrastructure development, manifests its economic prowess to propel global development through partnership and connectivity with an explicit aim of shared global prosperity. President Xi, while addressing second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on 26 April, vividly espoused the achievements of the initiative so far and gave an encouraging perspective on the future aims of the cooperation. He said “What we have achieved amply demonstrates that Belt and Road cooperation has both generated new opportunities for the development of all participating countries and opened up new horizons for China’s development and opening-up. We need to be guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. We need to act in the spirit of multilateralism, pursue cooperation through consultation and keep all participants motivated. We may, by engaging in bilateral, trilateral and multilateral cooperation, fully tap into the strengths of all participants.  We need to take a people-centered approach, give priority to poverty alleviation and job creation to see that the joint pursuit of Belt and Road cooperation will deliver true benefits to the people of participating countries and contribute to their social and economic development. We also need to ensure the commercial and fiscal sustainability of all projects so that they will achieve the intended goals as planned. Connectivity is vital to advancing Belt and Road cooperation. We need to promote a global partnership of connectivity to achieve common development and prosperity. I am confident that as we work closely together, we will transcend geographical distance and embark on a path of win-win cooperation.”

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The fact that more than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China amply demonstrate the faith of the participating countries and multilateral organizations in the BRI initiative and its potential to give the world a new global economic order predicated on participation and shared economic prosperity. The much awaited re-awakening of the East has come forth in the shape of BRI.

However the BRI initiative also has its detractors and opponents, like the USA and some of its western allies, who perceive it as a threat to the global economic order which promotes their vested interests. They are taking all possible measures to stop China from gaining the status of number one economic power of the world, with a greater political role on the world stage.  The US trade war with China is one of the manifestations of the malice and grudge that they harbour against China but it will harm them more than the latter. Their economies have reached a point of saturation while China still has a vast potential to increase its economic prowess that will benefit the countries participating in the BRI initiative, because it is not only a global factory for producing goods and services for exports but is also a global market for other countries with ever expanding horizons. China is vying for the removal of trade barriers and is willing to lower tariffs as well as remove non-tariff barriers to meet the ever-growing material and cultural needs of its people by giving them more choices and benefits.

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The USA has found a willing partner in India to do her bidding in this region and to check Chinese burgeoning influence in the region and beyond. The USA and India are vying to sabotage the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a pivotal project of BRI which aims at regional connectivity and shared regional prosperity. However, in spite of covert and overt Indian actions to sabotage CPEC, both China and Pakistan have urged India to join it, earnestly believing that Indian participation would not only help in exploiting the regional economic potential for shared prosperity but would also benefit India immensely. Unfortunately the Indian leaders remain oblivious to the benefits of CPEC blinded by their designs to establish hegemony in the region.

However, notwithstanding the US hostility toward BRI and Indian opposition to CPEC, it is an irrefutable reality that China is destined to lead the world within the next two decades as its economic prowess and future potential amply suggest. Connectivity has become the buzzword of the 21st century, which has turned the tide against those who are vying to protect their vested global interest and resist the change.

Author: Malik Mohammad Ashraf

Source: Pakistan Today

Date: 24/5/2019

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