China dazzles the world with her Silk Road plan to connect, Asia, Europe and Africa

EU/China Summit, 12-13/07/2016. (from left to right) European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Council President Donald Tusk. Yesterday 14 May 2017 in Beijing Xi Jinping delivered the keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the ‘Belt and Road Forum’ at the China National Convention Center. (© European Union , 2016/Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: Olli Geibel ).

More than 30 political leaders and government representatives from 110 countries participate in the Belt and Road Forum China organizes in Beijing on Sunday and Monday 14 and 15 May. The Forum extended an invitation to all the countries of the world, the international organizations and businesses and aspires to be an all inclusive global economic and why not political event. According to the organizers, the ‘Belt and Road’ Initiative is a China-proposed trade and infrastructure plan to connect Asia with Europe and Africa.

Yesterday, the Chinese President Xi Jinping at his opening speech, reassured the world that China pledges $125 billion for this plan. This colossal amount states Beijing’s willingness to take the lead in the venture for free trade and order in the world. Such a step makes very good sense now after Donald Trump has turned America into an inward looking economy and threatens free trade and world order, by attacking China and Europe just because they run positive trade balances with the US. Washington’s demand about the signing of bilateral trade agreements is a major blow to world order, because the US in that way denies the role of the World Trade Organization and the established patterns of trade. Let’s take one thing at a time.

In view of all that, China with the ‘Belt and Road’ project undertakes a leading role, soundly based on the tradition of ancient Silk Road, which for centuries connected China with the rest of the known world in Asia to the west and Europe. The ancient Silk Road was a series of roads and trade hubs on the Euro-Asiatic land mass and a chain of sea ports. All that served as connection points of a line of land and sea routes for the Euro-Asiatic trade of silk and other valuable goods.

A colossal project

Now China is proposing to the rest of the world ‘The Belt and Road Initiative’, as a massive trade and infrastructure plan aimed at tightly connecting Asia with Europe and Africa. Understandably, the gradual realization of such a plan would have wider positive repercussions on the ‘belts and roads’ which offer safe and low cost transactions, in an environment of peace and security. Beijing appears ready to invest trillions on this project. It also targets at activating even more public and private investments in cooperation with the Asian, European and African countries along the land and sea routes which connect Asia, Africa and Europe. This Chinese initiative has been conceived and organized during the past many years. However, the timing of its lunching last weekend on 14 May has made it even more relevant and important.

In the current global conjuncture, the West appears politically and economically weary by the long years of financial globalization and free trade. China seems by this initiative to grab the opportunity to underline her willingness to take the lead in the relay race to make the globe a better connected, peaceful and smaller place. The Chinese President Xi Jinping, in his famous 17 January 2017 Davos Forum said, “The point I want to make is that many of the problems troubling the world are not caused by economic globalization”. In this way, China appears to contest the leadership of global economic affairs, after Trump’s America is becoming inward looking and protectionist.

A tired West?

The anti-immigrant and protectionist tendencies in the US and the denial of Globalization by the left behind Britons, are strong signs that the West is gradually turning its back to more internationalization of the planet’s economic and political life. The globalization experience of the last thirty years had more victims in the West than gainers and consequently it brought about xenophobia and produced fast growing inward looking political forces. In Britain the money sharks of London City dragged the country’s capital far away from the rest of the country. Incomes and the way of life detached London from the UK, up to the point that Manchester, Liverpool, Edinburgh and the other major cities and the countryside had almost nothing in common with the London elites.

The result was Brexit and Trumpism, with chauvinism becoming a real threat to the world order. Washington’s economic protectionism and xenophobia within is now accompanied by political aggression without. The US accuses China and Germany for all the economic malaises of globalization, forgetting that the open economic borders have made the US corporations unbelievably wealthy. The market capitalization of some of them has now reached the region of one trillion dollars, a mythical amount of money.

Targeting China

It’s not the fault of China or Germany that a growing part of the American society was left behind in the globalization years. Unfortunately now, Trump, instead of start fulfilling his promise to take care of the neglected Americans, vies to drastically lower corporate taxation and reduce the health coverage of the poorer. If this tendency of neglecting a large part of the population continues, the world will become a very unstable and dangerous place.

Independent sources estimate that the American multinational technology giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft or the pharmaceutical leviathans Pfizer, Jonson & Jonson, Merck, Sanofi, Roche and others are paying practically no taxes. At the same time, the monster New York banks keep spinning around $4.5 trillion of financing from the monetary authorities at almost zero interest rates. This is the globalization that has hurt tens of millions of voters in the West, not China or Europe.

A forum with future

Understandably however, the Beijing Silk Road forum of last weekend, having attracted global interest, has also offered opportunities to some for adverse publicity. In the bottom of it, the US and less so Europe are not so happy with this Chinese initiative. Washington is even more hostile to and showed her disapproval, by denouncing the participation of a North Korea representation, one among the 110 participating countries. In any case, Beijing’s reaction was that the event was an inclusive and not an exclusive forum, that’s why the whole world was invited.

All in all, China is a hard long planner and has proved that, by the meticulously drafting of her brilliant internal economic growth, with a series of 5 year plans. She has had 12 of them. Again, in the case of the ‘Belt and Road’ project which incorporates more than half of the world, Beijing is expected to pursue it with vigilance and effective support. China has the money, the expertise and the willingness to accomplish this dazzling project. It’s not by chance that the Great Wall was constructed by them.

 

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