BRI: infrastructure diplomacy summit | By Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

BRI: infrastructure diplomacy summit

China’s One Belt & One Road initiative has become a sign of economic recovery, strength, stability and of course sustainability in all member countries, although internal economic fault lines and the limited mechanism of capacity building is one of the main obstacles. This is why the BRI has been advocating and reaching out to countries in need to fix its intrinsic economic flaws first.

The concept of BRI did not come out of the blue moon. It has been characterized in various economic policies and strategic directions of China in recent years.

It has been an ideal combination of China’s robust domestic economic growth and its planned regional and global expansion to achieve an appropriate grand economic roadmap and blueprint for moving countries and communities from the dead ends of economic slums. towards economic surpluses through infrastructure development, greater regional connectivity and immense socio-economic integration. In this context, the Western Development Program (WDP) (1999) and the China Goes Global (CGC) plan (2000) had fundamental BRI futuristic origins.

It seems that the BRI follows the “infrastructure diplomacy” initiated by China in the 2000s. Subsequently, the BRI succeeded in mobilizing all economic actors in China.

From the start, BRI’s flagship program has been infrastructure connectivity, aiming to finance and build major infrastructure projects linking China with Southeast, South and Central Asia. Critical analysis reveals that the BRI concept was not new; China has been conducting “infrastructure diplomacy” since at least 2008.

In this regard, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) had proposed mutual connectivity projects within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Central Asia and within the framework of ASEAN Plus Three (APT). in Southeast Asia.

MFA’s infrastructure proposals, however, did not go much further, as it did not have access to project pipelines from Chinese banks, nor the power to orchestrate the financing and construction of infrastructure, which belonged to the National Development and Reform Council (NDRC) and China. Development Bank (CDB).

Meanwhile, China’s domestic overcapacity intensified in 2010 and its infrastructure diplomacy was taken to a new high by its visionary leaders. At the China-ASEAN Leaders’ Summit, former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged to “provide loans to establish a China-ASEAN Infrastructure Cooperation Fund.”

In particular, in Indonesia, Wen announced that China would disburse $1 billion in concessional loans and $8 billion in development finance to meet the country’s infrastructure needs. Then President Hu Jintao pushed for equally strong infrastructure ideas.

In this regard, at an APEC summit in Russia in 2012, Hu proposed a concrete plan for infrastructure development in Eurasia in a speech titled “Deepening Mutual Connectivity and Realizing Sustainable Development”, stating that ” infrastructure is the basis of economic development; connectivity is essential for trade integration; and Asian leaders must promote communication and cooperation across borders.

It is evident that prior to Xi’s Belt and Road announcements, former Premier Li was an active promoter of infrastructure in Asia and China’s commitment to invest there. In May 2013, during a visit to Pakistan, Li announced that China would invest $14 billion in 36 projects covering energy, roads and telecommunications in the country.

In this sense, real investments in infrastructure had also been important before the BRI. In 2011, China provided $15 billion in concessional loans to support 50 projects, including highways, railways, water, power, telecommunications and electricity linking China and the world. ASEAN. Cross-border rail and road projects have linked border capitals such as Nanning and Kunming to Hanoi and Singapore, respectively.

When ASEAN members founded the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) in 2012, Chinese diplomats attempted to expand it into an East Asia Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) , but could not include Japan and other “unfriendly” countries. Eventually, Chinese President Xi officially announced the BRI in 2013.

The concept of the Chinese Marshall Plan remained in the news in 2009, which could serve as a medium- to long-term strategy for disbursing foreign aid and fostering international cooperation. Chinese leaders have proposed that China spend $500 billion to establish a “seamless global plan” by providing aid and loans to Asian, African and Latin American countries. The plan, according to Xu, would boost Chinese exports, reduce industrial overcapacity, accelerate the internationalization of the renminbi and enhance China’s global influence.

From 2010 to 2012, tension in maritime Asia rose rapidly. The United States has excluded China from a regional grouping, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and has been seen as creating a de facto geostrategic encirclement around China. Wang Jisi proposed “China Goes West” as a way to promote strategic rebalancing and prevent direct confrontation between the United States and China in maritime Asia.

Wang’s strategy was very popular in Beijing’s foreign policy circles. After the launch of the BRI, security experts in Beijing claimed that “China is going west” was the precursor to the BRI.

The process from the announcement of the BRI to consolidation as a national strategy, from around 2013 to 2015, shows how the strategy strengthened China’s dynamic state. During this conjuncture, various state agencies, especially those with pre-existing BRI-compliant resources and projects, received a major boost in their efforts. The BRI has become a mobilization campaign, in which different government agencies have inserted their political ideas and made the messages of the strategy more concrete.

In line with pre-existing policy ideas and practices, the Foreign Ministry strongly supported the BRI and argued that the strategy would integrate China’s own development with Asian regionalism through policy coordination, road linkages, trade facilitation, currency exchanges and the communication of public opinion. .

For its part, the NDRC released its action plan for the construction of the BRI, in which investment, manufacturing, cross-border industrial parks, energy trade and infrastructure were “the priority of priorities . On the other hand, the State Council Development and Research Center (DRC) think tank advocated that the BRI jointly develop coastal, central and western China, while improving Asia’s overall economic competitiveness in the world.

To conclude, the BRI represents a new era of economic diplomacy in China and advocates a series of free trade areas (FTZs) mindful of geostrategy and other related economic cooperation among all member countries. It has strategic importance, linking the construction of a new Silk Road with the revival of China’s ancient place in the world. He advocates for the BRI to connect land and sea transport, deepen regional integration and expand the geostrategic space for China’s rise.

Ultimately, it borrows Chinese President Xi’s holistic policies, primarily the Global Development Initiative (GDI), Common/Shared Prosperity (CP), and Global Community Development (GCD) and has become a symbol of economic sustainability. without particular geopolitical conditions or conceptions.

Rapidly changing socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic trends in the region and beyond urge Chinese policymakers to further transform the BRI in line with the new conflicting realities, especially the imposition of unilateral socio-economic and geopolitical sanctions against Russia. In this regard, the China-EU strategic partnership should also be reviewed and continued to give respite to BRI member countries, especially in Central Asia and South Caucasus regions.

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