Written by: Ms. Amna Munir, Research Intern, PRCCSF, Islamabad
China has been advocating peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit through common development. A win-win strategy has marked China’s foreign policy for a long time, where it advocated for joint growth ventures by all nations in the region. China has risen to be a world power through peaceful self-development and economic growth rather than oppression. The country has avoided conflict and confrontation all through history.
China launched the Belt and Road Initiative to revive the old Silk Route for better trade and economic development, with an aim to bridge the infrastructure gap in the region allowing mutual growth of all participants of the project. It is a project that works toward homogenous policy-making and smooth flow of resources through the region for better economic growth. It is highly significant in building a power-balanced world with democratized economic growth through proper policy making and utilization of resources in a sustainable manner to benefit all stakeholders.
BRI is in line with China’s win-win ideology which advocates mutual growth for all nations of the region to support homogenous growth and equal opportunities for all stakeholders and is a way forward towards equitable Economic globalization, benefitting developed and developing countries alike. So far, operating in 6 separate corridors, China has been highly successful with BRI and its common development goals.
The Belt and Road Initiative: An Overview
The world, as of today, has an infrastructure gap that hinders trade, growth and prosperity. It prevents joint ventures toward a more sustainable and prosperous future. China identified this gap and decided to take on the mission of bridging it through the Belt and Road initiative which was unveiled by President Xi Jinping in September 2013. It is a large-scale infrastructure development project, which is to be launched in 70 countries to achieve regional connectivity, aiding sustainable growth and development.
China believes that the only way forward is an approach that supports common growth, assisting every nation to build itself, eventually leading to an inclusive world with a sustainable future. BRI is an initiative adopted as a development strategy to bridge the infrastructure gap, alleviating industrial excess capacity and providing a new market for Chinese products. Mutual benefit is the main feature of BRI, with an aim to develop all nations involved.
It is pertinent to understand the aims and objectives of an initiative on a global level to be able to understand who benefits most from it. President Xi summarized the objectives of BRI as, “China will actively promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative. In doing so, we hope to achieve policy, infrastructure, trade, financial, and people-to-people connectivity and thus build a new platform for international co-operation to create new drivers of shared development”
Regional connectivity has been the major motivation behind rapid BRI development, as it would aid trade and growth. All of these factors have acted as a booster for BRI, allowing it to spread quickly through various countries, operating on 6 major corridors i.e. New Eurasia Land Bridge, China, Mongolia, Russia Economic Corridor, and China – Central Asia – West Asia Economic Corridor, China Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, and China – Pakistan Economic Corridor, China – Bangladesh India – Myanmar Economic Corridor.
Win-win Cooperation: Key Characteristics
The win-win cooperation has been an offshoot of China’s initial ideology of peaceful coexistence and mutual benefit, which saw multiple leaps over the years and transformed into the major guiding factor of China’s foreign policy. A win-win strategy gave a fundamental solution to common development, which was economic integration, where multiple states joined hands for the common goal of sustainable growth.
Under the banner of BRI, China has opened various Research and Development centres in partner countries, along with manufacturing bases and trading platforms. This has been fruitful to the recipient countries and China mutually. The BRI prioritizes five cooperation principles:
- Inter-governmental policy cooperation:
It aims at making consistent policies throughout the region to promote hassle-free trade and cultural integration.
- Financial integration:
The financial incorporation of all participant countries through homogenous economic policies and mutual growth is aimed through BRI.
- Unhindered Trade:
The major focus of BRI has been on removing all trade constraints and making it a hassle-free process, improving the trade outcomes and profit margins of all involved parties, allowing mutual benefit and economic growth homogenously throughout the region and improving the standard of living and uplifting the region as a whole.
- Facilities Connectivity:
For smooth trade and growth, BRI prioritizes the infrastructure connectivity of the region involved, aiding the process of unhindered trade through the region and reducing transportation and communication costs, which are pertinent to a successful trade system.
- People-to-people connectivity:
Another major aspect of BRI is people-to-people connectivity, which can be achieved through cultural exchanges and integration over the period of mutual development. This would reduce the chances of confrontation and increase mutual respect among nations removing the barriers of cast and creed. The removal of differences on the basis of geographical boundaries would aid a system that promotes innovation and creativity.
Belt and Road Initiative, started in line with the win-win ideology of China, has so far been able to achieve massive support from a lot of countries in its plan to connect 70 countries and seaports through easily accessible transportation routes and proper infrastructure. It also aims to work towards homogenous policy making and cultural exchanges within the region to support hassle-free trade and common growth in economies.
It is China’s attempt to bring the old silk route back to life, through two major routes, i.e., the Maritime route and Overland Silk Road to benefit its trade, allowing its products to reach new markets and is also a way forward towards a more power-balanced world that supports mutual growth and development for all partners involved.