The Road initiative is just a part of it

The Chinese are laying out a grand economic
design aimed at global supremacy. The One Belt One Road initiative is
just a part of it and it is the Project-of-the-Century
as described by China’s leader Xi Jinping on May 14, by laying out his grand
plan to remake the world order. Xi unveiled his pet initiative One Belt One Road initiative which seeks to establish
Beijing at the centre of the world through a series of massive infrastructure projects
linking China with the rest of the world. India was the only major absentee
from the OBOR summit as the opacity surrounding China’s goals coupled with
India’s concerns over Chinese ambitions in the POK.

If OBOR was so named with the hope of signaling
the world about the China’s benign intentions, the country’s leading thinkers
are aware that more is at risk. Through OBOR China is for the first time
staking claim to be a global leader in with comparison to the USA. Chinese
thinkers believe that China has two option available a)Trade protectionism and
b) To guide globalization into a new phase and form a new economic and world
order. The first alternative takes the world back to square one which is
unthinkable. The Chinese are at the historical turning point and must embrace
this new phase. China’s push for global supremacy didn’t begin with the OBOR
but it has emerged as the instrument through which China is making it’s intentions clear. For the two decades
China is pushing its state owned enterprise to go out to secure the country’s
interest like for railways in Africa, acquiring and operating mines all over
the world from Latin America to Afghanistan and constructions of dams from
Argentina to Myanmar. What China is trying to do and to some extent has
achieved success in doing.

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More than his predecessor Xi has been more
aggressive in campaigning China’s role globally. After taking his office in
2012 he gave a slogan ‘China’s
Dream’ of the great rejuvenation of
the nation. Every leader since Sun Yet Sen ha

The Elephant vs. The Dragon

 

s spoken of
china’s revival but its Xi has pushed more than anyone. The key word in this
revival is and it gets to the heart of what China is now trying to do with it’s
foreign policy. It means securing China’s interest which in turn projecting
China as a great nation at the world stage. It is no surprise that its leader
see their economy and traders as key to their global mission.

In 1996, the leader Jiang Zemin pushed what were
then called a ‘Going-Out’ strategy for state owned enterprise. In 2001, China
accounted for less than 5% of global trade but today it is the world largest
exporter of about 14% share. Now it is the largest trading partner for more
than 100 countries and has emerged as the biggest source of FDI from Venezuela
& Angola to Nepal and also EXIM bank are funding this investment and
lending more in Africa.

Gabbing up their resources, China is today the
world biggest producers and consumers of everything from coal & iron to
copper and rare earth. The Belt and Road plan was first unveiled as a land ‘Silk
Road Economic Belt’ by Xi during 2013 on his state visit to Kazakhstan. It
is doing in 3 ways that will bring market closer, by setting up project
overseas and through massive lending. For instance: to reduce reliance on
Malacca Strait, China has opened a new pipeline with Myanmar connecting to
Kunming. Pakistan’s Gwadar port in the Arabian Sea has been conceived to open
up alternative access to different sea ports. In China it is said ‘in order
to become rich, it is by building roads and bridges’ whether this plan will
work is far from certain. Top Chinese economists have expressed fear that PRC
is overextending itself. In some countries the debt burden are increasing and
impossible to finance for governments, which are also facing criticism because
Chinese companies are given all contracts. Chinese companies can suffer from
defaults. Xi Jinping says rather than carrying out reforms to privatize the
state sector, OBOR is designed to overcome overcapacity by exporting machines,
steels and cement.

Sri Lanka is among the debt struggling nation to
repay the loans. Miller says some policy makers in Beijing estimate that China
is likely to lose 80% in Pakistan, 50% in Myanmar and 30% in Africa. The USA with
its superior military remains the world superpowers but as Beijing commercial
interest overseas expands rapidly, it will naturally have greater stakes
globally. Opening of base in Djibouti and opening of Hambantota Port in Sri
Lanka and Gwadar Port in Pakistan. The projects Beijing says are purely
economic but it is no coincidence that China is accelerating the expansion of
its Blue Water Navy.

Through OBOR and CPEC, China is expecting almost
every aspect of its development model to Pakistan. It is clear that the entire
initiative is China-Centric and China-led. China
tries to show the jointness but only from one side. No wonder India boycotted
the summit of OBOR. The decision also factored in China’s unwillingness to
address its concerns on CPEC which passes through POK. Delhi also faces the
most difficult challenge of responding to rising Chinese influence by offering
an alternative by opening its market and integrating with the neighborhood.

India needs to focus on delivering of existing
commitments because that is the place where China scores the maximum points.
But it is not in Delhi’s interest to allow relationship to degrade into
outright hostility. Delhi will be continuing involving itself with Beijing and
also building closer relationship with Japan and Australia. International
perception will only change once India is seen narrowing the gap with China.

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