Belt and road initiative: Target towards globalisation 5.0

The strategic initiative of the One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative has expanded and restructured with new routes being added along with the first project program. Now the plan aims to reach 4.4 billion people in around 69 countries with a combined effect of US $ 2 trillion on their GDP. Primarily, the initiative would bridge the infrastructure gap and redistribute funds amongst the Asian economies. According to the implementation guideline for the Belt and Road initiative published by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in March 2015 “development plans along the Belt and Road routes aim to improve connectivity in five areas: policy, infrastructure, trade, currency, and people”.

Moreover, utmost priority is given to the development of infrastructure, like the construction of roads, railways and ports, to improve the connectivity of the region. Another priority area is that of the energy sector that is essential for the smooth running of industries along with the initiative such as power grids, oil and gas pipelines, liquefied natural gas terminals, high-voltage power lines, nuclear power reactors, renewable energy installations and other energy projects. The best possible infrastructure facilities and unhindered flow of energy are the most vital necessities for success of the all-ambitious OBOR. Additionally, for the flow of technology and its acceptance, the communication lines and mega IT projects are also under the pipeline across Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe.

The region is of the most significant since the global stats shows that East Asia is one of the most dynamic and fastest growing regions of the world. Despite the precious treasures of natural resources, Central Asia still lags in terms of development. China understands this fact better than anyone else does. Therefore, the stem of its infrastructure is developed for Central Asia. Such a move aims to reduce the friction in this region and to ensure a bilateral trade for equitable economic growth, development, and integration. The strategic goals of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) further emphasise the importance of regional stability and a better understanding of each other’s political makeup to combat the forces of terrorists and extremists groups.

On the other hand, the one belt one-road initiative spreads over the ASEAN countries that have a history marred with neglect of regional connectivity and a desperate need for infrastructure to overcome the impending need for stable energy resources (SIEW 2015). For a 21st, Century China moving towards globalisation the challenges that come with a sustainable domestic economy are numerous. Some of these challenges include ‘lack of access to the resource markets for final products; reduction or reallocation of industrial overcapacity and diversification of its enormous US$3.51 trillion in foreign reserves.

I am of view the Belt and Road initiative is a window to crack some of these problems in an efficient manner. By the development and transformation of the infrastructure relating to transport, energy, and communication along the Road and the Belt, not only China but also regionally connected economies like Pakistan would be able to solve the problems relating to regional connectivity. For two millennia, China has emerged as a world power, which can be seen from the production, trade, finance culture, ecology, security, military and geopolitics. At an international level, China has evolved as a world power with substantial participation in structure, bilateral trade agreements and peace treaties. China dwells upon its span over a large, unprecedented geographic region that exercises control without any military power. Therefore, the given ideology of soft power without the use of force imposes an interest-driven discourse of its political, economic, and security reality on others.

The “Reform and Opening Up” policy, has been continually working on to improve its multilateral trade agreements and strategy for economic cooperation that provides mutual benefits for future developments. The Chinese President Xi introduced the new idea that aims at creating a win-win strategy in the concept of “three together”.

Many countries playing a part in China’s One Belt One Road Initiative are working for improving infrastructure, IT and sustainable energy resources that are looking for strengthening their relationships with China. However, there are also some parties that are of the exact opposite view. Therefore the support and trust of the public and business communities are essential for the acceptance of the initiative. The indigenous communities are sensitive towards their religion and customs, in the countries along the path of the Belt and Road, hence getting local support for making decisions in the concerned countries relating to this multilevel and multipurpose gigantic project is very important.

China move towards globalisation is not new; indeed, it involves the constant and persistent effort of the government, policymakers and the public at large. Pakistan should also take the same inspiration and make use of this platform in the most efficient manner. Last weekend, I attended the Industrial Energy Efficiency international conference organized by Energy Foundation China in Beijing where delegates from more than 20 countries have participated and put forth their proposals to make effective use of China’s Belt and Road initiative in energy conservation, green and healthy economy.

Source: The Nation

Date: 7/10/2019

Author: Dr Hasnain Javid

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