Belt and Road Initiative: Paving the Path to Sustainable Development Goals and Enhanced Regional Connectivity

By: Ms. Saleha Khan, Student of Bachelors in International Relations at University of Central Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.

Winner of the Article Writing Competition (3rd position) on the theme “Celebrating 10th Year of Belt and Road Initiative” held in September 2023.

Abstract: This paper explores China’s regional connectivity efforts across East Asia, Eurasia, and East Africa, through BRI. This paper examines the BRI, and how it substantially enhanced connectivity, economic growth, employment, and sustainable development. Data has been collected from secondary sources. The discussion regarding BRI and SDGs has been made under the theoretical lens of the neoliberalism theory. The comprehensive analysis sheds light on how the BRI is achieving SDGs, promoting regional integration, and encouraging inclusive development.

 Introduction: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) appears as an extensive development strategy in accordance with the Chinese government in 2013, to advance global and regional connectivity through the development of infrastructure, financial cooperation, and trade facilitation. President Xi Jinping initiated this strategy in 2013 and is aiming to spend almost one trillion dollars on infrastructure projects across 68 states. BRI is a process that can influence sustainable development, and any analysis of its effects requires a basic methodology. The BRI is a system to accomplish the 9th sustainable development objective and intends to coordinate economic advancement needs, especially environmental sustainability, into its targets

Research Question: How does the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) improve regional integration as well as analyze the role of Chinese investments, infrastructure advancement, and diplomatic endeavors in promoting harmony, prosperity, and sustainable development among participating states?

 Theoretical Framework: This Study can be analyzed through the lens of neoliberalism theory. Neoliberalism, established in standards of restricted government mediation and a free market, advocates for financial advancement and globalization. The BRI, a large-scale infrastructure drive sent off by the PRC, plans to connect nations along the old Silk Road through different transportation and development schemes. Neoliberal scholars contend that the BRI lines up with their standards, as it supports market-based arrangements, liberation, and privatization.

advancing financial coordination and worldwide cooperation, the BRI and SDGs line up with neoliberal standards, possibly prompting expanded improvement and market-driven solutions for sustainable management of assets and social welfare. The study will further look into the behavior of China through BRI its steady expansion in Asian, and European nations, and recently their action of moving toward regional connectivity with Afghanistan by recognizing the Taliban government.

 Research Methodology: This research paper is conducted by applying a qualitative research methodology and collecting data through documentary analysis. The review has gathered the prerequisite information from the principal sources on BRI and its implications on SDGs. Data was collected from secondary sources. Secondary data was derived from research articles, books, and reports published on the issue under consideration.

Discussion: China’s economic expansion through infrastructure investments

China initiated BRI with various unique goals in mind, through BRI, it is going to have a lot of advantages in terms of its socioeconomic and political dominance. Till now, China has interacted with over 140 states and global institutions. With the thought of investing in various nations, China is launching new markets in favor of its commodities and services. This way, its trade-based dominance throughout the sphere is on the way to rise. With the continued speed of (BRI), the Economy of China is experiencing a surge, driving its GDP to impressive levels. Forecasts predict that near 2030, this advancement can lead China to beat the USA.

 Examining Regional Connectivity and Global Sustainable Development Targets through the BRI: Interconnectivity and growth across East Asia, Eurasia, and East Africa involving over 60 nations will bolster China’s geopolitical influence this will be achieved using the establishment and improvement of the economic corridors, these strategic development initiatives and the resulting interconnected infrastructure are vital for augmenting China’s global influence.

In recent times, China has turned its attention towards Afghanistan, engaging in deeper interactions and regional integration with the country, particularly in light of the resurgence of the Taliban. This engagement is driven by a multifaceted array of economic, strategic, and security interests. By establishing ties with the Taliban-led government, PRC aims to mitigate the potential spread of extremism and insurgent sentiments.

However, China’s principal objective is to maintain stability in the region and safeguard its economic concerns and investments within Afghanistan, notably in infrastructure and mining ventures. China’s involvement in Afghanistan under the BRI encompasses several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), emphasizing economic growth, progress in infrastructure, integration of the region, and the reduction of poverty.

Moreover, China has established regional ties with Pakistan, notably through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has strengthened its relationship by connecting Kashgar City to Gwadar Port through an intricate system of pipelines, railways, and highways. What sets this corridor apart is its link between the Maritime Silk Roads and the land routes across Eurasia envisioned within the OBOR program.

CPEC also addresses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within Pakistan, focusing on poverty reduction by reducing economic disparities and unemployment. It includes energy projects that enhance the country’s energy capacity, investments in infrastructure to advance the nation, and contributions to Pakistan’s efforts in climate change mitigation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The United States is grappling with China’s gradual ascent to superpower status driven by its burgeoning economy, shaping a conflict over global influence, thereby creating financial uncertainty for Pakistan.

China’s influence extends beyond its immediate region. For instance, in Sri Lanka, through the Colombo Port City project, China has stimulated economic growth by creating employment opportunities. Additionally, in Kenya, China has played a crucial role in constructing intricate Facilities projects like the Standard Gauge Railway, enhancing transportation, and promoting industrialization.

 Conclusion: In conclusion, China’s endeavors to improve regional integration across Africa, Asia, and key nations such as Afghanistan and Pakistan through BRI, have shown a multifaceted effect on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The BRI acts as a substantial catalyst, promoting economic development, infrastructural growth, and social welfare. China’s strategic alliance via the BRI underscores a unified global effort towards achieving sustainable development goals, fostering connectivity, and establishing a foundation for a more peaceful and interconnected world.


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