What is China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”?
“In 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed that China would create a “Silk Road Economic Belt” across Central Asia and Europe and a “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” running through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, on to the Middle East and Europe — programs meant to revive ancient trade routes and reinforce existing ones. Beijing quickly wove these two visions together and dubbed them the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).” (1)
Explainer | Belt and Road Initiative debt: how big is it and what’s next? – South China Morning Post – published 19 July 2020
How Does China Do It?
“BRI projects are built using low-interest loans as opposed to aid grants. Some BRI investments have involved opaque bidding processes and required the use of Chinese firms.” (2)
“BRI partnerships typically come in the form of joint memoranda of understanding to support future projects. But these contracts are typically shrouded in secrecy, so it’s hard to understand how they work.” (3)
and “Flashy Salesmanship”
Silk Road Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the practice Chairman. The firm has 26 years of China operations with offices throughout China, Asia and Europe. Please refer to our Belt & Road desk or visit our website at www.dezshira.com for further information.
What is the history on which this “Initiative” is based on?
“What was the original Silk Road?
The original Silk Road arose during the westward expansion of China’s Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), which forged trade networks throughout what are today the Central Asian countries of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as modern-day India and Pakistan to the south. Those routes extended more than four thousand miles to Europe.
Central Asia was thus the epicenter of one of the first waves of globalization, connecting eastern and western markets, spurring immense wealth, and intermixing cultural and religious traditions. Valuable Chinese silk, spices, jade, and other goods moved west while China received gold and other precious metals, ivory, and glass products. Use of the route peaked during the first millennium, under the leadership of first the Roman and then Byzantine Empires, and the Tang Dynasty (618–907 CE) in China.
But the Crusades, as well as advances by the Mongols in Central Asia, dampened trade, and today Central Asian countries are economically isolated from each other, with intra-regional trade making up just 6.2 percent of all cross-border commerce. They are also heavily dependent on Russia, particularly for remittances—they make up one-third of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. By 2018, remittances had dipped from their 2013 highs due to Russia’s economic woes.” (2)
There is also a “Oceania” component to the “Belt and Road Initiative” known as “Maritime Silk Road”
“Xi subsequently announced plans for the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road at the 2013 summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Indonesia. To accommodate expanding maritime trade traffic, China would invest in port development along the Indian Ocean, from Southeast Asia all the way to East Africa and parts of Europe.” (2)
As can be seen in the above map, the Eastern and South China Seas AND the Artic and it’s Sea Routes are part of the “Maritime Silk Road”
The Eastern and South China Seas
The issues with China and the Eastern and South China Seas are well know and documented. For more info, my page at Eastern and South China Sea is loaded with articles and information. Just this month, the problems in the Eastern and South China Seas have come to a head.
“The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” Pompeo said. “America stands with our Southeast Asian allies and partners in protecting their sovereign rights to offshore resources, consistent with their rights and obligations under international law. We stand with the international community in defense of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose ‘might makes right’ in the South China Sea or the wider region.” (4)
And Australia is taking action:
“Australia has declared “there is no legal basis” to China’s territorial and maritime claims in the South China Sea, marking an escalation of recent tensions with Beijing and bringing Canberra further in line with Washington.” (5)
Now you might ask “Why the Artic”? Well –
Arctic likely to be ice-free by 2050 despite climate efforts, new study says – Bellona.org – posted 05/07/20
And that means that a wealth of oil, natural resources and rare earth minerals will be up for the taking.
“China’s ambitions have even reached the Arctic, with plans to build a “Polar Silk Road” with infrastructure projects and shipping routes between the Arctic and Asia.” (3)
Xue Long, China’s icebreaking research vessel, in the Arctic Ocean. Wikimedia Commons
China’s Belt and Road Enters the Arctic – The Arctic states could find much-needed funding for infrastructure improvements through China’s Belt and Road. By Heidar Gudjonsson and Egill Thor Nielsson – The Diplomat – published March 31, 2017
China’s Belt and Road: Where Does the Arctic Angle Stand? By Heidar Gudjonsson and Egill Thor Nielsson – The Diplomat – Published September 22, 2017
A Cold Arena? Greenland as a Focus of Arctic Competition – Recent questions over the extent of China’s ambitions for Greenland deserve close scrutiny. By Mingming Shi and Marc Lanteigne – The Diplomat – Published June 10, 2019
US awakens to risk of China-Russia alliance in the Arctic – Nikkei Asian Review – posted 05/24/20
My page for more information on the Artic is at” Watch The Artic
Where else is the “Belt and Road Initative”Occurring?
Can you say everywhere? Through Chinese Government agents and the “Flashy Salesmanship” mentioned above it is everywhere.
China’s Belt and Road Makes Inroads in Africa – In Senegal, Rwanda, and Mauritius, China pursues Belt and Road agreements — with mixed success. – By Shannon Tiezzi – The Diplomat – July 31, 2018
China’s African Moves Through The Belt & Road, Double Tax Treaties & AfCFTA – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – Silk Road Briefing – May 28, 2019
UNDERSTANDING CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN AFRICA By DAVID DOLLAR – Brookings – SEPTEMBER 2019
The Caribbean & West Indies
China’s Belt & Road – The Caribbean & West Indies – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – Silk Road Briefing
China invites Latin America to take part in One Belt, One Road – Reuters – JANUARY 22, 2018 / 12:07 PM / 3 YEARS AGO
The Belt, the Road, and Latin America – by June Teufel Dreyer – Foreign Policy Research Institute – Published January 16, 2019
Belt and Road in Latin America: A Regional Game Changer? Four Issues to Watch – by PEPE ZHANG – Atlantic Council – OCTOBER 2019
Belt and Road Initiative to Boost Chinese Lending in LatAm – by DANIELA GUZMAN AND Aaron Weinman – US News and World Report – Jan. 28, 2020
Mexico & Central America
The Belt & Road Initiative In Mexico & Central America – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – Silk Road Briefing – May 27, 2019
China’s Belt & Road Initiative In The Middle East – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis –Silk Road Briefing – Jun 21, 2019
China’s Belt & Road Initiative And South America – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis – Silk Road Briefing – Mar 24, 2020
There even more areas covered by Silk Road Briefing and the articles continue to this day telling the world how wonderful the Belt and Road Initiative is.
China’s Belt & Road Initiative Changes Focus As Smaller Investments With Minority Equity Stakes Take Preference – Op/Ed by Chris Devonshire-Ellis –Silk Road Briefin – Jul 28, 2020
What ever they are being paid they are earning it.
This first part is just about what China’s Belt and Road Initiative is and where it is showing up in the World – basically everywhere.
Now think about it – China is giving Countries (many of them 3rd World or unstable) loans for heavy infrastructure work. Hidden and secret M.O.U.’s are being used in all cases. What is in those contracts,etc for China and why are they kept secret?
Part 2 will talk about that side of the equation.
(1) UNDERSTANDING CHINA’S BELT AND ROAD INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN AFRICA by David Dollar – Brookings – published September 2019
(3) The US is scrambling to invest more in Asia to counter China’s ‘Belt and Road’ mega-project. Here’s what China’s plan to connect the world through infrastructure is like. By Alexandra Ma – Business Insider – posted Nov 11, 2019