Friday, 27 November 2015

The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative

Update 23 Mar 2017: China's 'one belt, one road' takes to space
A rocket carries two satellites for the Beidou system

China's dream of building a 21st-century Silk Road spanning half the planet was already ambitious. That was before outer space became part of the vision.

Countries along Beijing's flagship Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, better known as "One Belt, One Road", will be among the 1st in line to plug into China's new satellite-navigation services, according to a government policy paper on the country's space programme released Tuesday.

That means people from East Africa to the South Pacific will have access to the Chinese Beidou-2 satellite network, Beijing's answer to the US Global Positioning System, by 2018, with the satellites providing the digital glue for the roads, railways, ports & industrial parks China intends to build on terra firma.

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Belt and Road Initiative -- idea from China but belongs to whole world

The Belt and Road (yidaiyilu) Initiative has become the most popular public goods and platform for international cooperation with the brightest prospects in the world amid rising protectionism and unilateralism, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on the sideline of the recently concluded China's two sessions.

Proposed in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the initiative has witnessed continuous expansion of its "friend circle", and yield tangible benefits for countries along its routes.

It will provide unprecedented opportunities for the economic and social development of countries involved, as "it is the way leading to the community of shared future for mankind," said Gerrishon K. Ikiara, a senior lecturer at the University of Nairobi.

related: China's official Belt and Road portal goes online

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Silk Road Vision Takes Shape

The Silk Road network took new steps towards development today as it was confirmed by Turkmenistan’s president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, that the first section of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Tajikistan (TAT) railway has been commissioned, reported CCTV news.

TAT will provide opportunities for countries in Europe, Asia and the Pacific, according to Berdimuhamedov, who was joined by Afghanistan’s president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, at an opening ceremony on November 28, 2016, to mark the occasion. Ghani claims that the new railway will revive the Silk Road and will turn into an important transport corridor to Europe, the Pacific and Asia.

Silk Road network relations also improved recently when Pakistani officials welcomed the first large shipment of Chinese goods through its port of Gwadar, a deep-water port that is a gateway of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which encompasses roads and energy plans.

related:
Technical Paper: China’s One Belt Road
China Silk Road Secures $100bn Subsidy
China in Silk-Road Policy Drive
China in $40 billion maritime plan
China in Silk Road-Suez Canal Grab
New Silk Road Connects London
Tag "one belt one road"

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Kuwait turns Silk Road into a massive causeway
The oil-rich emirate is eager to inject life into the uninhabited Subbiya region on its northern tip that has been chosen as the location for Silk City

Kuwait is building one of the world´s longest causeways to its remote north where it will pump billions into "Silk City", aiming to revive the ancient Silk Road trade route.

The plan is to reinvigorate the ancient Silk Road trade route by establishing a major free trade zone linking the Gulf to central Asia and Europe.


The 36-kilometre (22-mile) bridge, three-quarters of it over water, will cut the driving time between Kuwait City and Subbiya to 20-25 minutes from 90 minutes now.

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China rail to London boosts One Belt, One Road
The One Belt, One Road initiative runs through Iran as well [Xinhua]

Keeping in tandem with President Xi Jinping’s One Belt, One Road economic growth strategy, China this week expanded its pan-European railway destinations when a train left Yiwu West station in the eastern Zhejiang province headed for Barking Station in London.

The train’s trek will cover some 11,800 kilometers as it crosses through a number of countries, such as Kazakhstan into Russia, Poland, and Germany before crossing the underwater English Channel rail in France.

China’s One Belt, One Road initiative aims to create a modern Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to boost trade and extend its global influence.

The ancient Silk Road connected China and Europe from around 100 B.C.

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'China freight train' in first trip to Barking
The first freight train from China arrived in Hamburg in August 2013 after a 15 day journey

China has launched a direct rail freight service to London, as part of its drive to develop trade and investment ties with Europe.

China Railway already runs services between China and other European cities, including Madrid and Hamburg. The train will take about two weeks to cover the 12,000 mile journey and is carrying a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items.

It has the advantage of being cheaper than air freight and faster than sea.

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The New Silk Road: China Launches Beijing-London Freight Train Route
A general view of the first China Railway Express, a new railway line from China to Europe during the inauguration by visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping in Warsar, Poland, on the sideline of the International Forum on the New Silk Road, Monday, 20 June 2016. The visit is intended to boost China's infrastructure investments in Europe, and opening China's market to Poland's foods. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

On Sunday, the Chinese government launched a rail freight service between China and London. This is the first direct rail link between China and Great Britain. The route of the service will traverse from Beijing, across Asia and Europe, before terminating in London.

The route is actually not new at all. It is part of the old Silk Road, which commenced in 200 BC, through which Chinese silk caravans carried wears to Europe and Africa. The trail provided much wealth and prestige for the Chinese Empire of the day.

Now, Beijing is aiming to resurrect this historic trade route by using rail power. The journey is as much an engineering challenge as a logistical problem. Freight must swap trains along the way, as railway gauges vary between the connecting countries. In its 18-day journey, freight will span 7,456 miles of railways, crossing Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.

related:
5 Upheavals To Expect Along The New Silk Road In 2017
Mapping China's New Silk Road Initiative
Europe Finally Wakes Up To The New Silk Road, And This Could Be Big
Europe, Too, Is Building New Cities Along The 'New Silk Road'
Why The China-Europe 'Silk Road' Rail Network Is Growing Fast
China Is Moving Mountains For The New Silk Road - Literally
Countries Building The New Silk Road - What They're Winning In The Process
How Those China-Europe 'Silk Road' Trains First Began

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China launches freight train to Britain 
The train is part of an initiative by Chinese leader Xi Jinping

China launched its first freight train to London on Sunday, according to the China Railway Corporation.

The train will travel from Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province, Eastern China to Barking, London, taking 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles.

The route runs through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France, before arriving in London. The UK is the eighth country to be added to the China-Europe service, and London is the 15th city.

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China launches first freight train to BRITAIN: Service carrying clothing and bags will travel 7,456 miles and reach London after 18 days

The first freight train from China to London set off on Sunday on a journey that will cover a staggering 7,456 miles.

It departed from Yiwu railway station in Zhejiang Province, China, and will arrive in Barking, London, having been trundling along for 18 days. Its route will snake through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium, France and finally Britain.

The service is being run by the China Railway Corporation. Britain is the eighth country to be added to its list of destinations, with London its 15th city.

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China launches new freight train that will travel over 12,000 kilometers from Yiwu to London

Looking to go to London for cheap? Well, now you can stowaway on a freight train that travels over 12,000 kilometers from the manufacturing hub of Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province all the way to the British capital. Just make sure to bring some water with you because the trip takes about 18 days.

The first freight train from Yiwu to London was launched on Sunday. It will bring China closer to its ultimate goal of being able to go everywhere in the world by train, along with promoting international trade and cooperation.

Yiwu is home to a multitude of factories that produce everything from the clothes you are wearing to the Christmas decorations you put on your tree. Trains departing from Yiwu West Railway Station will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France before finally arriving in London.

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New Silk Road's impact on shipping will be limited
China's ambitious plans to create a modern-day Silk Road by way of building roads and railways abroad are unlikely to change the face of global shipping. This means Spore's position as a key hub port, in turn, will be little affected as well. FOTO: ST FILE

China made further headway in its drive to connect with the rest of the world by high-speed rail when it launched its 1st rail freight service to Britain on Sunday.

China Railway Corporation announced on Monday that the train, carrying clothes, bags & other items, departed from Yiwu in the eastern Zhejiang province, said a Bloomberg report. It will travel more than 12,000km over 18 days - passing through places such as Kazakhstan, Russia and Germany - before arriving in London.

London is the 15th European city to now have direct trains from China as part of President Xi Jinping's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, which is aimed at boosting trade ties with markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

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Port of Singapore risks being disintermediated by China’s freight train to London

The first freight train from China to London set off on new year’s day on an epic journey which will cover a staggering 7,456 miles, before returning to Yiwu afterwards. The return journey from London Barking Railway Station to Yiwu Railway Station takes 21 days.

According to American Journal of Transportation, the freight train is operated by Yiwu Timex Industrial Investment Co Ltd and has been running services to Madrid (Spain) via Duisburg (Germany) for over a year.

Brunel Project Cargo which is the UK partner of the new China rail service said that it believes this is going to change the way a lot of forwarders and shippers view their imports and exports for China – particularly with air freight.

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New China-UK rail link to 'revolutionize' freight movement

China launched its first freight service to the United Kingdom on New Year's day, according to the China Railway Corporation.

The service runs from the Chinese city of Yiwu, in the country's eastern Zhejiang province, to Barking in London. The journey lasts for an average of 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometers, according to a Chinese government website.

The route will "revolutionize the way freight is moved from China," Mike White, director of its U.K.-based arm, Brunel Shipping, told CNBC via telephone. He explained that freight transport by sea from China to the U.K. can take twice the time of the new rail link. Also, it offers the potential for "huge savings" on existing air routes.

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China launches freight-train line to London as part of bid to increase trade ties with Europe
A 2014 shot of the first freight train from China to Madrid, Spain. The Asian country is launching a similar cargo train to London

China started a freight train to London as part of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with Europe, according to state-owned China Railway Corp. The train departed Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province on Jan. 1 and will cover more than 12,000 kilometers in about 18 days before reaching the British city, China Railway Corp. said in a statement on its website on Monday. The freighter, carrying garments, bags and suitcases among other items, will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France. Xinhua reported the service earlier.

While the train can carry about 200 containers, versus 20,000 on a large cargo vessel, the trip takes about half as long as a 30-day sailing between East Asia and northern Europe. That will make rail a competitive option when maritime shipments are held up or miss the booked departure, especially compared with airfreight, which costs twice as much, according to Michael White, operations director at Brunel Shipping, the U.K. booking agent for the service.

London is the 15th city in Europe to be added to China’s freight train services to the continent as Xi seeks to reinforce commercial links with markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. In 2013, Xi unveiled his so-called Belt-and-Road initiative, making transport lines the centrepiece of his efforts to create a modern Silk Road.

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The New Silk Route: Freight train from China to Barking launched

World’s longest railway: New Yixinou train connects China’s Zhejiang Province to Madrid, Spain

A new freight rail route connecting Yiwu West Railway Station in Zhejiang Province with Barking in London has been launched by China Railway.

The route, which has been dubbed the New Silk Route by the Chinese government, will take around 18 days to travel over 7,400 miles carrying a cargo of clothes, bags and other household items.

China Railway already runs services between China and other European cities, including Madrid and Hamburg. The rail line has the advantage of being cheaper than air freight and faster than sea.

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Hungary becomes first European country to join China's Silk Road project

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto on Saturday signed a cooperation agreement for China's "One Belt, One Road" project, initiated to develop trade and transport infrastructure across Asia and Europe.

Hungary hopes to strengthen the two countries' relationship and speed up the construction of the Hungarian-Serbian railway, which China has helped to finance and build.

Szijjarto told reporters that "Cooperation between the two countries has never been as good or as effective as now" and that Hungary seeks to become the regional hub for China's activities in Europe.

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The Countries Building The New Silk Road -- And What They're Winning In The Process
A peddler and beggar in front of a propaganda poster for the Silk Road Economic Belt in Urumqi, in China's far western Xinjiang region. Image: Wade Shepard

When the Soviet Union fell the political and economic landscape of central Eurasia shattered into a melee of disconnected, dysfunctional shards as 14 new countries suddenly emerged in tandem with a pronounced political and economic vacuum. Whereas the Soviets, to varying degrees of success, organized the various realms under their control according to specific industrial and agricultural specialties — i.e. Georgia would build heavy machinery, Kazakhstan would produce wine, Azerbaijan would provide oil, etc. — and bolstered infrastructural and economic development along these respective designations, each post-Soviet state was suddenly left to rebuild its entire economy virtually from the ground up.

However, almost as soon as the Soviet Union disintegrated, the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus began looking for ways to reconnect again. Inspiration for the future was soon taken straight from the pages of history. During the days of what had retroactively been dubbed the Silk Road the countries of Central Asia acted as land bridge, connecting the booming markets of China with those in Europe. Ancient Silk Road cities like Xi’an, Samarkand, Merv, Aleppo, and Baghdad all acted as major transshipment and manufacturing centers, where middlemen would relay wares between all points of the Eurasian landmass. While there is certainly a large amount of romance attached to this simplified rendering of history, this rendering is serving as a functional road map as to how the region is moving forward and developing today.

Eurasia, as a contiguous continent stretching from the west of Europe to the eastern coast of China, is rapidly being drawn together into a massive market covering over 60 countries, 60% of the world’s population, 75% of energy resources, and 30% of GDP. Many plans have been brought forth by multiple regional players to guide this endeavor — the most dynamic of which is China’s multi-trillion dollar Belt and Road initiative — but the end goal of them all is the same: to create “win-win” solutions where all parties benefit by pursuing the similar goal of infrastructural development and economic integration.

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China expected to play more practical role in Belt and Road Initiative
The International Seminar on the Belt and Road Initiative is held in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Sept. 26, 2016. (Xinhua/Shao Rui)

China sees itself not only as an initiator but also a responsible and reliable practitioner of the Belt and Road Initiative, suggested a think tank in a report on the three-year progress of "Belt and Road," released on Sept. 26.

Since the Belt and Road Initiative is a long-term and systematic program, China should take measures in five areas, including policy, talent cultivation and business support, the report stated. These measures will ensure that China plays a more practical role in the development of the initiative. The report, titled "Adhering to the Planning, Order and Pragmatic Construction of the 'Belt and Road,'" was released on Monday.

The report emphasizes the role of business support systems as a source of power for the initiative’s development.


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What South Korea Thinks of China's 'Belt and Road'

If the 21st century ultimately fulfills its predicted destiny as the “Pacific Century,” future historians will mark 2013 as the watershed year in which the gravity of world power began to tilt toward the Asia-Pacific, and perhaps 2017 as the decisive year of the shift. In 2013, two major economic strategies to strengthen regional cohesion and global connectivity were announced: China’s massive “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) and South Korea’s “Eurasia Initiative” (EAI). While the former has clearly overshadowed the latter, the relatively tiny South Korea’s aspirations may ultimately hold the key to the success or failure of China’s grand vision because of the pivotal role North Korea plays in the destiny of both countries.

The genesis of both OBOR and the EAI is geography, from which the region’s strategic impetuses flow. As the Western world’s attention has increasingly tilted eastward, manifested in part by the U.S. “Pivot to Asia,” China, in contrast, has turned westward, as well as to its north and south. Not to be outdone, other regional powers have also readjusted their strategic compasses: Russia’s attention is increasingly turning south and east through its “Eastern Dream”; India is turning north and east through its “Act East” strategy; and Japan is turning to its west and south with its “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy.”

These geographic readjustments of strategic priorities are in great part a reaction to the U.S.-centric regional architecture based on the “hub-and-spoke” alliance system that has dominated the region since World War II. OBOR is China’s attempt to build an alternative regional architecture to support its own geopolitical objectives, first and foremost challenging U.S. leadership in the region and ultimately globally. OBOR also serves China’s nearer-term priority of reinforcing its own domestic stability by promoting security in extra-territorial regional neighbors through its economic and political influence.

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A brilliant plan - One Belt, One Road

In just 30 years, China has developed from a poor inward-looking agricultural country to a global manufacturing powerhouse. Its model of investing and producing at home and exporting to developed markets has elevated it to the world’s second-largest economy after the USA.

Now faced with a slowing economy at home, China’s leadership is looking for new channels to sustain its appetite for growth at a time when developing neighbours are experiencing rapidly rising demand. At the heart of One Belt, One Road lies the creation of an economic land belt that includes countries on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as well as a maritime road that links China’s port facilities with the African coast, pushing up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.

The project aims to redirect the country’s domestic overcapacity and capital for regional infrastructure development to improve trade and relations with Asean, Central Asian and European countries.

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China's Huge 'One Belt, One Road' Initiative Is Sweeping Central Asia

Having overbuilt in many domestic industries—such as coal, cement and even solar panels—the Chinese government is redirecting its capital abroad. The aim is to reduce excessive industrial capacity at home while increasing financial returns. U.S. policymakers ought to be watching this very closely.

One of Beijing’s most ambitious foreign economic development initiatives aims to recreate the legendary Silk Road. Nicknamed One Belt One Road (OBOR), the project wields plenty of financial muscle. It launched in February 2014 with $40 billion—mostly drawn from Beijing’s bountiful foreign exchange reserves.

Since then, OBOR has begun attracting other foreign investors. Singapore’s state-owned development board has agreed to partner with China Construction Bank, committing about $22 billion to finance OBOR projects. International pension funds, insurance companies, sovereign wealth funds and private equity funds have also thrown in on OBOR projects in search of higher financial returns. Chinese infrastructure investment projects now span the globe.

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China’s Belt and Road plan ‘open’ to all nations

Officials reiterated on April 16 that the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives will be “open” to all nations and are not limited by geography.

The commitment was made by top government officials at a briefing for foreign diplomats and company representatives held jointly by the International Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s economic planner.

“The initiatives are open to all and countries that are interested in the initiatives can participate in them. What China has offered is only the vision,” said Ou Xiaoli, deputy director-general of the Department of Western Region Development at the NDRC.

related: FROM INITIATIVE TO REALITY

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China's Strategy for a New Global Financial Order

In late 2013, Chinese premier Xi Jinping announced a pair of new development and trade initiatives for China and the surrounding region: the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road,” together known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR).

Along with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the OBOR policies represent an ambitious spatial expansion of Chinese state capitalism, driven by an excess of industrial production capacity, as well as by emerging financial capital interests. The Chinese government has publicly stressed the lessons of the 1930s overcapacity crisis in the West that precipitated the Second World War, and promoted these new initiatives in the name of “peaceful development.”

Nevertheless, the turn to OBOR suggests a regional scenario broadly similar to that in Europe between the end of the nineteenth century and the years before the First World War, when strong nations jostled one another for industrial and military dominance.

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One Belt, One Road, one giant opportunity
Source: HKTDC Research China's belt and road initiative would create six trade routes between the Middle Kingdom and the rest of the world. Source: HKTDC Research

In October 2013, the Chinese president Xi Jinping delivered a speech to the Indonesian Parliament, promoting the concept of 21St Century Maritime Silk Road. A month earlier, he gave a similar speech at the Kazakh capital, outlining his vision on how to revitalise the ancient trade route. He called the project the Silk Road Economic Belt.

Known as One Belt, One Road, it will connect China’s neighbours through a series of massive infrastructure projects from high-speed railways to airports bringing them closer into Beijing’s economic orbit. It is China’s most ambitious economic diplomacy project to date and many commentators have compared it to the US Marshall Plan to rebuild war-ravaged Europe after the Second World War.

Since President Xi’s announcements more than three years ago, Chinese banks, state-owned enterprises, and economic planners have rolled out a raft of programs to implement the supreme leader’s vision. China Development Bank, which has a balance sheet larger than the World Bank, is tracking more than 900 projects in 60 countries worth more than US$890 billion. The Bank of China has also pledged to lend no less than US$100 billion between 2016 and 2018. The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of the world’s largest banks, is looking at 130 Belt and Road Initiative-related projects worth about US$159 billion. In short, Chinese financial institutions are prepared to inject hundreds of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects around the region.


China’s One Belt, One Road: Will it reshape global trade?

One of the biggest stories in Asian business is China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, an economic and diplomatic program that could transform trade.

The future of trade in Asia could depend heavily on what becomes of China’s expansive One Belt, One Road initiative, which calls for massive investment in and development of trade routes in the region.

In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, recorded in May, McKinsey senior partners Joe Ngai and Kevin Sneader talk with Cecilia Ma Zecha about One Belt, One Road—what it really means, what it needs to become a reality, and why people should take it seriously.

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Modern-day Silk Road Effort Could Challenge US Influence in Asia, Africa, Mideast

China's "one belt and one road" initiative could usher in a new era that sees China as the undisputed geopolitical powerhouse in the region, experts say.

The initiative will establish new routes linking Asia, Europe and Africa. It has two parts — a new "Silk Road economic belt" linking China to Europe that cuts through mountainous regions in Central Asia; and the "maritime Silk Road" that links China's port facilities with the African coast and than pushes up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed during a speech at the Boao Forum on March 28 in Hainan, China, that China intends to push forward on the initiative that many are comparing to the ancient Silk Road.
"The idea of one belt and one road is based mainly on the economy, but has political and strategic components and implications," said Zhuang Jianzhong, vice director of Shanghai Jiao Tong University's Center for National Strategy Studies. "It aims for the joint development, common prosperity and for energy security, too."
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How China's Belt And Road Economic Corridors Are Enhanced By The UN's TIR Convention
In this photo taken on July 7, 2012, trucks loaded with coking coal line up to enter a customs border between Mongolia and China near Tsogttsetsii, in southern Mongolia. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

China is not wasting any time making use of their new membership in the UN’s TIR Convention. Hardly a month after joining the trans-Eurasian transit pact, which enables authorized transporters to move goods through 70 member states across the EU, the CIS, and parts of the Middle East and North Africa by road with just a single customs inspection, China began testing the feasibility of their new economic corridor that will run through Mongolia and into eastern Russia.

This new corridor, which was signed into existence in June, will funnel China’s domestic transportation network into those of its neighbors to the north, essentially bringing the Belt and Road together with Mongolia’s Prairie Road program and Russia’s transcontinental rail and road systems. It’s ultimate aim, of course, is to advance economic and political ties, lay a groundwork for mutually beneficial infrastructure projects, and ultimately to increase trade between China, Mongolia, and Russia.

These three extremely large countries in the heart of Asia ultimately rely on each other for a large amount of their economic sustenance. 24.6 trillion kilos of freight were shipped between China and Russia and Mongolia last year alone. Upwards of 80% of Mongolia’s export value goes to China and a third of the country’s imports come from China — in fact, three-quarters of Mongolia’s economy was found to be reliant on its neighbor to the south, according to an IMF report in 2012. China is also Russia’s top trading partner, accounting for roughly $40 billion worth of exports and $50 billion in imports each year.


China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Policy Is Open to All Nations
China's Belt-Road Initiative

In 2013, President Xi Jinping of China called for joint development of an “Economic Belt along the Silk Road” and a “Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century.” The “Belt” and the “Road” are two major initiatives that China has made to deepen reform, and open up and advance its neighborhood diplomacy. They have been written into the documents of the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Meeting on Neighborhood Diplomacy, and the Central Economic Work Conference, and have been enthusiastically received both at home and abroad.

The Belt and the Road initiatives are the continuation and development of the spirit of the ancient Silk Road. Over 2,000 years ago, the industrious and brave people on the Eurasian continent opened several trade routes connecting major civilizations across Asia, Europe, and Africa. Together, they were referred to as the “Silk Road” by succeeding generations. Despite repeated strife and wars in Eurasia, traffic on the Silk Road never completely stopped. Such links of mutual emulation via the Silk Road made exchanges of goods, know-how, people, and ideas possible; promoted the economic, cultural, and social progress in the various countries; facilitated dialogue and integration of different civilizations; and left behind brilliant pages in human history.

Moving into the 21st Century, an era that is dominated by the themes of peace, development, and cooperation, but continues to feature a complex international and regional landscape, the Silk Road has become all the more important and precious as a symbol of peace, cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, mutual learning, and resilience.

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China's One Belt One Road Initiative: Opportunities for ASEAN Energy Market

China’s Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, an initiative commonly known today as One Belt One Road, has been planned as the largest and most comprehensive development project in human history, directly affecting a population of 4.4 billion people with a collective GDP of 2 trillion dollars.

As part of its goals, this initiative aims to address the $800 billion annual financing shortfall in infrastructure investment Asia will be facing in the coming decade with much of the need being in the energy sector: upstream projects, oil and gas pipelines, LNG terminals, high voltage power lines, nuclear power, renewable energy and other energy projects. With high levels of energy poverty and the pressing need for energy infrastructure investment coupled with the desire for increased regional energy connectivity, ASEAN will be the center of China’s Belt-Road project.

The roundtable will explore ASEAN’s energy investment needs and the opportunities the Belt-Road initiative offers the region. It will also assess the implications of China’s growing engagement in South East Asia for energy security, investment climate and pollution reduction. The roundtable will focus on the following questions:
  • What are the most immediate priorities for energy infrastructure investment and energy connectivity in ASEAN?
  • What is the role of China’s newly formed financial institutions, the Silk Road Fund and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), in advancing energy investments in ASEAN?
  • What can Asian countries do to form a more effective, more integrated and ‘win-win’ energy market?

ASEAN diplomats welcome China's One Belt, One Road initiative

China has stepped up efforts to sell its ambitious One Belt and One Road initiative, which aims to create multiple economic corridors spanning more than 60 countries across the world.

Recently, the country invited China-based foreign diplomats to tour Fujian, Guangdong and Guangxi Provinces, together forming part of the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road that falls under the One Belt and One Road initiative.

“We are very interested in China’s efforts to share its development model because, as you know, China’s economic miracle is something that has impressed everybody," said Ivan Frank Olea, Minister and consul from the Philippines embassy. "With this One Belt, One Road and Maritime Silk Road, they want to share their development model, as well as share prosperity around the region.”

related: China's One Belt, One Road strategy creates business

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Thai Foreign Ministry explains China's 'One Belt One Road' strategy
The Department of East Asian Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has reported on China’s “One Belt One Road” solidarity strategy

The department explained that the “One Belt One Road” strategy is a proactive Chinese policy to expand the country’s role and influence on the international stage in counterbalance with the United States. The strategy involves omni-directional cooperation, connecting with all countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

The progressive policy consists of two initiatives. The first initiative is to develop the New Silk Road Economic Belt, connecting the Middle East, Europe and Africa. The second initiative is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, connecting China with Southeast Asian countries. The Chinese government also intends to establish the Silk Road Fund and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with 40 billion US dollars, to support capacity building in the aforementioned regions.

China is also setting aside 30 million yuan or 157.3 million baht for the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation Fund, for joint technological and scientific projects on marine conservation and economic cooperation.

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The “One Belt, One Road” Strategy and China’s Energy Policy in the Middle East
Roots of the “One Belt, One Road” Strategy

The genesis of the “One Belt, One Road” strategy—also known as the Belt and Road Initiative—can be traced to three noteworthy public events that occurred in rapid succession in the latter part of 2013. On September 7, in a speech delivered at Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed building the Silk Road Economic Belt. Addressing the Indonesian parliament on October 3, he recommended that China and Southeast Asian countries work together to revive the Maritime Silk Road. On October 24-25, at a work forum on “periphery diplomacy” held by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing, Xi stressed that China is committed to forging amicable and mutually beneficial relations with its neighbors, such that they will benefit from Chinese development and China will benefit from a prosperous neighborhood. In this way, the president conceptually linked the notion of the “Chinese dream” to regional development. This conference marked the official birth of China’s “Silk Road strategy.”

A year later, the strategy began to take shape. In October 2014, Beijing committed $50 billion to form the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), together with several partner countries. The bank aims to raise $100 billion for infrastructure projects across Asia. On November 8, 2014, Xi said that China would contribute $40 billion to its new Silk Road Fund, which is designed to improve trade and transport links in Asia. In his keynote address at the 2015 Boao Forum for Asia, Xi for the first time explained in depth China’s vision of the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road. During the forum, China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), in cooperation with the foreign ministry and commerce ministry, issued an action plan for the Belt and Road.

According to the action plan, the Belt and Road will run through Asia, Europe, and Africa, connecting the East Asian economic sphere at one end with the European economies  at the other. The Silk Road Economic Belt—a series of land-based infrastructure projects including roads, railways, and pipelines—focuses on strengthening links between China, Central Asia, Russia, and Europe (particularly the Baltic). China will gain improved access to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea through Central Asia and West Asia, and to the Indian Ocean through Southeast Asia and South Asia. The 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road is designed as two paths: one from China's coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and the other from China's coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific region.

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Pakistan and One Belt-One Road

Chinese and Pakistani leaders regularly describe their relationship to be “higher than the Himalayas and deeper than the Indian Ocean”. But the nature of the China-Pakistan relationship is more complicated.

On one hand Pakistan poses is a security threat to Beijing, as groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement(ETIM), responsible for terrorist attacks in China in Beijing and Kunming in 2014, receive training and support on Pakistani territory. On the other hand, Pakistan is becoming an integral piece in China’s One Belt-One Road(Yidai-Yilu) connectivity puzzle.

Gateway House interviewed Dr. Jabin Jacob, assistant director and fellow at the Institute for China Studies, New Delhi, on the relationship between China and Pakistan, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor(CPEC), as well as China’s Yidai-Yilu initiative and where India fits in.

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China’s Belt and Road Strategy ignores India’s concerns

In March 2015, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi put out a document titled “Vision and Actions on Jointly Building Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road” on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. The document highlights the initiatives of President Xi Jinping in building the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and ‘Belt and Road’, latter denoting the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road. In 2013, China had expounded the Maritime Silk Road oriented towards ASEAN, to create strategic propellers for hinterland development. So, now accelerating the building of the Belt and Road is aimed to help economic prosperity and regional economic cooperation. The Belt and Road Initiative aims to promote the connectivity of Asian, European and African continents, and their adjacent seas.

Typical to all Chinese documents, this document too emphasizes that the Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, upholding the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, mutual non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence – an euphemism to dilute the strategic and geopolitical aims of China behind this game.

The Belt and Road initiative is to run through Asia, Europe and Africa, connecting East Asia at one end and Europe at the other, significantly, connecting China with Southeast Asia, South Asia and the Indian Ocean (both through Pakistan) with the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road designed to go from China’s coast to Europe through the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean in one route, and from China’s coast through the South China Sea to the South Pacific in the other.

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SISU's Middle East Studies Institute joins “One Belt and One Road” think-tank alliance
One Belt, One Road is China's framework for organizing multinational economic development

Representatives of more than 50 top research institutions across China attended the April 8 launch ceremony in Beijing of China’s first “One Belt and One Road” think-tank alliance council, with SISU’s Middle East Studies Institute being one of four think tanks representing Shanghai.

The council aims to develop cooperative research for policy advice for governments of the countries along the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road,” which spans Asia, Africa and Europe.

International cooperation in building up a network of “One Belt and One Road” think tanks was the discussion topic related to an international seminar, held during December 2014 in Istanbul, Turkey. Many international think tanks started joining the “One Belt and One Road” network early this year.

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Chinese Neighbourhood Diplomacy: Afghanistan, Xinjiang and Central Asia


News emerged that one of the most prominent peace envoys of Afghanistan held two-day long secret talks with former Taliban officials in the Chinese city of Urumqi. Taking into account the official unveiling of the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative in Kazakhstan in 2013 by President Xi Jinping, such developments underscore the willingness of the Chinese leadership to play a more prominent role in the region. Indeed, it appears that neighbourhood diplomacy is becoming a foreign policy priority for official Beijing.

As news agencies reported, this secret meeting took place on May 19-20, 2015, in the capital city of the Chinese restive region of Xinjiang. Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, a close confidant of Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, led the Afghan delegation. The other side of the table was represented by Mullah Jalil, Mullah Abdul Razaq and Mullah Hassan Rahmani, former members of the old Taliban government in Afghanistan currently residing in Pakistan. People familiar with this meeting confirmed that the secret talks were also attended by Chinese officials and representatives of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence directorate.

Such behind-the-scene politics demonstrate that Beijing is willing to undertake the role of mediator in Afghanistan and accelerate regional efforts to bring all engaged parties to the negotiating table. It has been long assumed that China established and maintained direct links to the Taliban prior to the Operation Enduring Freedom. In December 2000, then-Ambassador of China to Pakistan Lu Shulin met with Taliban’s supreme leader Mullah Omar in Kandahar to lobby the Taliban leadership not to support Uighur separatists and ensure the Afghan soil is not used for any destabilisation in Xinjiang. It also appeared that official Beijing was willing to buy peace with the Taliban through economic programmes. There were some contested reports that China has signed a memorandum of understanding on economic and technical cooperation with the Taliban leadership in Kabul in 2001, whilst the delegations of Chinese and Afghan businessmen paid reciprocal visits to Afghanistan and China respectively. Of course, these developments were voided after the events of 9/11, and Beijing preferred to distance itself from Afghanistan.

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Roots of the “One Belt, One Road” Strategy

The Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. It upholds the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. The Initiative is intended to be inclusive and to follow market principles.

The “One Belt, One Road” strategy emphasizes international cooperation according to the following five priorities:
  • Policy coordination
  • Facilities connectivity
  • Unimpeded trade
  • Financial integration (linking economies through institutions such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the BRICS New Development Bank, and the Silk Road Fund)
  • People-to-people bonds (providing public support for implementation)
China’s strategic coordination with the Arab world is an important part of its  “One Belt, One Road” vision, and China has proposed a comprehensive cooperation strategy known as 1+2+3. “One” refers to the need for increased cooperation on energy, covering a range of issues that include oil and natural gas production, ensuring the safety of energy transport routes, and establishing a mutually beneficial, long-term China-Arab energy relationship. “Two” stands for the two wings of infrastructure development, construction and trade/investment facilitation. “Three” relates to breakthroughs that need to be made in the high-tech areas of nuclear energy, aerospace satellites, and new energy in order to upgrade practical cooperation between China and the Arab world.

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Xi’an readies for key role in ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative
A screen shot from CCTV News shows China's plans for the "One Belt, One Road" initiative

Economic development in Xi'an has long lagged behind China's coastal cities due to its relatively inaccessible inland location. Now, the city is taking advantage of the opportunity to become the starting point for the Silk Road Economic Belt, an initiative proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, to refashion itself into China's largest inland port and logistics center.

Once considered one of the greatest ancient capitals of China, modern Xi'an is one of China's most popular tourist destinations and the most industrialized city in Northwest China. Xi'an has the 27th highest per capita income in the country. Economic development in Xi'an, however, has long lagged behind its coastal counterparts like Shanghai, a result of its relatively inaccessible inland location.

The "One Belt, One Road" initiative, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is China's latest plan to boost regional trade with Central Asia, Russia, Europe, and other regions. The central government has made the plan a centerpiece of both its foreign policy and domestic economic strategy, with potentially game-changing implications for regional trade, investment and infrastructure development.

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China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ Strategy
One road, one belt, and a lot of geopolitics

As part of July’s monthly member briefing, AmCham Shanghai members were treated to a speech on China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) strategy by Mary Boyd of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Although Xi Jinping’s expansive plan for OBOR has yet to be clarified, it has become a popular topic among China-analysts. Boyd shared her insights on the geopolitical construct of OBOR, the infrastructures that are already in place, and how this ambition fits into the “new normal.”

Introduced in 2013, One Belt One Road is the combination of two of Xi Jinping’s “Go Out” strategies. Xi’s vision for the project is to build transportation infrastructure to promote economic engagement and investment. The New Silk Road Economic Belt (pictured below in red) will run westward from China, crossing central Asia and eventually reaching Western Europe. The second is the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (in blue), which will loop south from China connecting Southeast Asia, South Asia and Africa before arriving in Europe.

The construction of OBOR comes with sensitivities as some construction will take place in areas where China has active geopolitical tensions. At the forefront is China’s overlapping maritime claims with several countries in the South China Sea, while to the West China must deal with regional rival India. Indian Prime Minister Modi has economic initiatives of his own and recently proposed a potential counter proposal to OBOR, the so-called Project Mausam, to reclaim some of India’s dominance on the trade routes in the Indian Ocean.

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China Voice: The "Belt and Road" initiative brings new opportunities

As China strives to achieve more regional cooperation, its "Belt and Road" initiative will not only drive domestic development but will also influence its foreign policy. The Silk Road Economic Belt is slated to be established along the ancient Silk Road trade route -- which stretched northwest from China's coastal area through Central Asia, the Middle East and on to Europe -- while the maritime Silk Road will run through the country's southern part to Southeast Asia.

Under the initiative, more highways, railways and air routes will be established, and Chinese regions will further integrate resources, policies and markets to connect with the outside world. The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road were put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his overseas visits in 2013. In November, Xi announced that China will push forward with the initiative and strengthen cooperation with those countries involved.

When visiting Mongolia in August, he said that China invited its neighbors to get on board and ride China's development. As China promotes the Belt and Road initiative abroad, it is also driving change back home. In an economic work conference held in December 2014, it was listed as one of the priority tasks for 2015. And in recent days, the initiative has been lauded by people's congress sessions across the country. A total of 20 provincial regions have made their development blueprints based on the belt and road initiative. Observers believe that the initiative can further integrate China, allowing more parts of the country to enjoy the benefits of its opening-up policy.

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How China successfully redrew the global financial map with AIIB

'One Belt, One Road' is a development strategy launched by after Xi called for a revival of the 2,000-year-old land-based Silk Road and a maritime silk route.

The New Silk Road economic belt will link China with Europe through central and western Asia, and the 21st-century maritime Silk Road, will build roads, railways, ports and airports across Central and South Asia to link China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe.

The potential for the AIIB to further the “One Belt, One Road” plan persuaded top Chinese leaders to back a 2013 proposal for the bank’s creation that was submitted by former vice-premier Zeng Peiyan, who heads the think tank, the China Centre for International Economic Exchanges (CCIEE), sources said.

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What is the “One Belt, One Road” Initiative?

The “One Belt, One Road” initiative is an economic policy introduced by Chinese President Xi Jin Ping in 2013. The plan focuses on encouraging integration and networking between locations along the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the Maritime Silk Road (MSR). (On the map below, the SREB is traced with a solid black line while the MSR is depicted with a dotted line.) The program is an effort to forge connectivity throughout Europe and Asia in order to increase diplomatic cooperation, establish open trade zones and facilities, and promote use of the RMB.   If successful, the ambitious “One Belt, One Road” plan will serve to strengthen China’s relationships with its neighbors as well as provide an outlet for the country’s production capabilities. China estimates that the program will reach approximately 4.4 billion people in over 65 countries.

However, the “One Belt, One Road” initiative does not come without challenges. First, China faces the problems that are associated with infrastructural gaps in Asia. China has invested hugely in solving these issues, but if these projects fail the country could face serious debt from its efforts. Additional relevant obstacles are the conflicts that would arise given unexpected environmental or human rights violations, which are highly possible given the magnitude of the project and the range of countries that the “One Belt, One Road” initiative intends to reach. Finally, critics of the plan argue that China’s economic goals overlap with a desire to exercise political influence on countries involved, and this international skepticism may hamper the success of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative.

Regardless, China is committed to the “One Belt, One Road” initiative and motivated to complete the plan. Since its inception, the plan has already spurred productive change. China is headed toward more sustainable and regionally balanced economic growth, which should be viewed as a great opportunity for foreign companies considering entering the China market.

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“One Belt and One Road”, Far-reaching Initiative

On Sept. 7th 2013, during his state visit to Kazakhstan, Mr. Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, proposed in his speech at Nazarbayev University that China and the Central Asian countries build an “economic belt along the Silk Road,” a trans-Eurasian project spanning from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. On Oct. 3rd 2013, Xi Jinping proposed a new maritime silk road in his speech at the Indonesia Parliament during his state visit to Indonesia. President Xi Jinping’s proposal of “One Belt and One Road” is the most significant and far-reaching initiative that China has ever put forward. It has aroused a great interest in the international press. To understand this initiative, we need to take a closer look at the world, China and this initiative itself.

The “One Belt and One Road” initiative concerns 65 countries and 4.4 billion people. This is China’s most important and strategic initiative. It has been well thought through by taking account of world’s need, the reality in Asia, and China’s own situation. In regards to the world’s need, we may consider the global landscape and find three significant features:
  • The first feature is that the Middle East and North Africa have become the epicenter of turbulence, regional war, conflict and hatred. The Arab Spring of 2010 triggered a major political earthquake in this region. A number of strong men fell down. The Syrian War has lasted for more than three years, with 200,000 dead and millions homeless. This war is still going on. The war between ISIS and anti-ISIS alliances is raging. Some parts of Libya have become the stronghold of ISIS in North Africa. We can’t foresee the end of turbulence in this region, in spite of tireless efforts from the international community to quell the violence.
  • The second feature is that Europe finds itself in the epicenter of financial crisis. This crisis broke out first in the United States in 2008. A worsening sovereign debt crisis in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece shifted the epicenter of the financial crisis to to Europe. The European Union is still struggling to overcome the consequences of this crisis.
  • The third feature is that East Asia has become the global growth center. The last three decades witnessed steady and robust growth causing East Asia to become the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world. Its steady growth is not only important for the whole Asia but also very much needed by the rest of the world.
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Why China is so keen on pushing ‘One Belt, One Road’ 
China aims to enhance its economic and geopolitical interests through the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road initiatives. Credit: Schillerinstitute.org

After announcing the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” in September and October 2013 respectively, Chinese leader Xi Jinping began promoting the concepts actively last year. The Silk Road Economic Belt starts from Xian, passing through major cities like Almaty, Samarkand, Tehran and Moscow, before ending at Venice.

The 21st Century Maritime Silk Road begins in Fuzhou, linking numerous coastal cities in the world including Hanoi, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Calcutta and Nairobi before joining the “Silk Road Economic Belt at Venice. This road map indicates a shift in the economic emphasis to Western China from the eastern parts of the country. Last year, Xi announced the US$40 billion Silk Road Foundation in order to expand offshore investment, involving initiatives such as construction of facilities, exploitation of resources and the cooperation in the industrial and financial arena.

In addition, local governments also released their plans of local Silk Road Foundation. For example, Fuzhou, the origin of the ancient maritime silk road, is working with the Fujian branch of the China Development Bank and China-Africa Development Fund. Meanwhile, Guangdong is looking to cooperate with Pan Pearl River Delta and the ASEAN for the establishment of a similar foundation. As a result, “One Belt, One Road” has become a popular subject among local enterprises.

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So what is China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ thing, anyway?
This CCTV News map shows the Silk Road Economic Belt over land and the Maritime Silk Road enhancing connections between China, South Asia, Africa and Europe

The term “One Belt One Road” has invaded reports on China trade over the past few weeks, with Beijing officials rarely missing a chance to extol the virtues of the regional initiative that brings together the Silk Road Economic Belt and Maritime Silk Road developments aimed at linking China with Europe and Africa, and the countries in between.

It is not a new strategy, however, and since it was first proposed almost two years ago, up to 60 countries have become involved in the giant initiative. Adding to the recent headlines was the establishment of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) whose mission includes backing the One Belt One Road development plans. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been promoting the trade connections lately while cheerleading the AIIB, which established its founding members in late March.

So what is this One Belt One Road? In short, China is looking for new ways to sustain its growth that slid to 7.4 percent last year and is expected to grow by 7 percent in 2015. While higher than most economies, it is a sharp drop from the double-digit growth China enjoyed during the last decade.

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A brilliant plan One Belt, One Road

In just 30 years, China has developed from a poor inward-looking agricultural country to a global manufacturing powerhouse. Its model of investing and producing at home and exporting to developed markets has elevated it to the world’s second-largest economy after the USA. Now faced with a slowing economy at home, China’s leadership is looking for new channels to sustain its appetite for growth at a time when developing neighbours are experiencing rapidly rising demand.

A new economic paradigm emerges - At the heart of One Belt, One Road lies the creation of an economic land belt that includes countries on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East and Europe, as well as a maritime road that links China’s port facilities with the African coast, pushing up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean.

The project aims to redirect the country’s domestic overcapacity and capital for regional infrastructure development to improve trade and relations with Asean, Central Asian and European countries.

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Prospects and challenges on China’s ‘one belt, one road’: a risk assessment report


In this report, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) unpacks China’s “one belt, one road” plan and explores the risks that will face companies seeking opportunities in the OBOR territories. It has been indicated that up to 60 countries may be included in OBOR with stops across three different continents. In addition to political objectives, OBOR brings a strategic focus which encourages Chinese firms to go abroad in search of new markets or investment opportunities.

Led from the highest levels of the government the OBOR push is backed by substantial financial firepower, with the government has launching a US$50bn Silk Road Fund that will directly support the OBOR mission. While the strategy promises opportunities for domestic companies, the route is unlikely to be an even one. The proposed countries range from Singapore to Syria. The companies involved could be heading into territories that may be strategically important for China’s foreign relations, but challenging to navigate.

The Economist Intelligence Unit helps business leaders prepare for opportunity, empowering them to act with confidence when making strategic decisions. We are renowned for our comprehensive global coverage and use the best analytical minds to examine markets, countries and industries with a level of insight you cannot find elsewhere. Uncompromising integrity, relentless rigour and precise communication underpin everything we do. We are meticulous with every analysis, every study, every projection and every commentary that carries the EIU brand. Our reputation for trusted business intelligence depends on it. Crystallise your thinking and see greater possibilities with business intelligence from the EIU–the most assured way to prepare for opportunity.

One belt, one road

"One belt, one road" is a development strategy started by the Chinese government in 2013.

It refers to the New Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe through Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will connect China with Southeast Asian countries, Africa and Europe.

Neither the belt nor the road follows any clear line geographically speaking; they serve more as a roadmap for how China wants to further integrate itself into the world economy and strengthen its influence in these regions.

China's 'One Belt, One Road' looks to take construction binge offshore

Two years after China unveiled a sweeping plan to rebuild Silk Road trade links with Europe and Asia, machinery maker XCMG Group has opened a factory in Uzbekistan, sent 300 staff abroad and set ambitious goals to grow overseas.

XCMG's foreign venture piggybacks on China's bold scheme to extend its global influence through financing infrastructure projects in 65 nations that are home to two-thirds of humanity, and at the same time win new markets for companies weighed down by profit-crushing overcapacity at home.

"This is China's grand strategy," said Hanson Liu, assistant president at Xuzhou Construction Machinery Group [XCMGP.UL], which aims to grow overseas income from 15 percent of total revenue in 2014 to more than 30 percent in the next five years.


The Trouble With China's 'One Belt One Road' Strategy

In 2009, former deputy director of China’s State Administration of Taxation Xu Shanda submitted to the Ministry of Commerce a proposal titled the “Chinese Marshall Plan.” In the wake of the global financial crisis, slumping exports, and extensive internal discussions on how to “create demand,” Xu’s strategy concept suggested utilizing China’s vast foreign reserves to offer loans to developing countries, which would then contract Chinese enterprises for major projects of infrastructure and construction. In short, this so-called Marshall Plan would be a roundabout subsidy, keeping Chinese industry and production robust, employment in place, and GDP growth high. Such projects would literally and figuratively pave the roads for Chinese goods and services to enter new markets, as one of the explicit goals of Xu’s strategy was also to find outlets for China’s excess production capacity.

This vision, or an iteration of it, has largely been borne out under the Xi Jinping administration. Since it was first announced in 2013, China has pulled out all stops to bring its massive One Road One Belt initiative to fruition, committing money not only into the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), but also the New Silk Road Fund (NSRF) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), as well as bilateral arrangements with countries. These investments, loans, and grants will be dispersed to create a network of infrastructure — including roads and rail lines, energy pipelines, power stations, and coastal ports — that is envisioned to extend west to Europe via the Silk Road Economic Belt, and downwards into Southeast Asia via the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.

This large-scale outpouring of capital, enterprises, and projects to foreign lands has been hailed as China’s great coming-out: a historical tipping point in the geopolitical balance, as China finally turns its relatively muted economic clout into more grandiose global power and leadership. But while there are a multitude of factors driving China towards this path, at core a major issue remains the need to “create demand” to address overcapacity and structural weaknesses in the Chinese economy.


China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ plan greeted with caution

No Chinese initiative has been lapped up so eagerly since Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book inspired millions across the globe in the 1960s. This time the proponents of the “One Belt, One Road” slogan are not young idealists but suit-clad and normally more sobersided politicians, bank analysts and economists.

One Belt, One Road is a Chinese foreign policy initiative promoted by president Xi Jinping and sometimes known as China’s answer to the Marshall Plan (although Beijing rejects that analogy). The numbers are impressive: $40bn from the new Silk Road Fund, to support private investment; not to mention the lion’s share of the expected $100bn to be dispersed from the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

So far there is little indication of where the money might flow, or how to tap it.

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China's rise as a regional and global power: The AIIB and the 'one belt, one road'

During the six years up to 2007 China’s GDP grew at an average rate of 11 percent, with investment equaling 41.5 percent of GDP. The current account surplus was rising in this period, reaching over 10 percent of GDP. In the six years since the global crisis, the external surplus has fallen sharply into the range of two to three percent of GDP, but the shortfall in demand was made up almost completely by an increase in investment, which has reached more than 50 percent of GDP in recent years.

China’s growth has been impressive compared to the rest of the world, but lost in the admiration is the fact that the growth rate has slowed down to around seven percent—down more than four percentage points from the pre-crisis period. Thus, in the recent period China has been using a lot more investment in order to grow significantly more slowly than in the past.

This pattern of growth manifests three problems. First, technological advance, as measured by Total Factor Productivity (TFP) growth, has slowed down. Second, and closely related, the marginal product of capital is dropping (it takes more and more investment to produce less and less growth). The real world indicators of this falling capital productivity are empty apartment buildings, unused airports, and serious excess capacity in important manufacturing sectors. The third manifestation of China’s growth pattern is that consumption is very low, especially household consumption, which is at only one-third of GDP.


Photographers, filmmaker address past and future of age-old trade route
Liu Heung Shing makes a speech. Photos: Courtesy of Shanghai Center of Photography

What do Pulitzer-winning photojournalist Liu Heung Shing, Oscar-winning English filmmaker Malcolm Clarke, and local photographer Er Dongqiang have in common? They have a keen interest in the "One Belt, One Road" initiative.

The three were on hand for a one-day seminar earlier this month titled "One Belt One Road and Diverse Cultures of the New Century" at the Shanghai Center of Photography, which Liu founded.

Clarke introduced a seven-part documentary on the New Silk Road, The Best of All Worlds, which he made alongside documentary filmmakers like Lorenz Knauer.


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China invests $51b in Belt, Road nations

China had invested $51.1 billion in countries within the Belt and Road initiative since 2013, and investment from those countries to China was nearly $3.4 billion, according to a report released at a seminar held in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province on Monday.

The report, published by the Renmin University of China (RUC), said China invested about $6.9 billion in the first half of 2016, most of which went to Singapore, Malaysia, Laos and Russia. And trade between China and countries along the route in 2016 reached $3.1 trillion, or 26 percent of China's foreign trade volume.

It also said coordinating development strategies has begun with many countries along the route, including Kazakhstan and Russia, the Xinhua News Agency reported.


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China Launch World-First Shipping Route

China has launched the first shipping route to connect the Middle East and the Beibu Gulf, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, which comprises the ports of Qinzhou, Beihai and Fangchenggang, according to Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

The Iranian container ship ‘Perarin’ arrived at Qinzhou Port on January 27, 2016 to deliver 978 containers from several countries along the Maritime Silk Road. The Maritime Silk Road was proposed by China to boost foreign trading in and around the Indian Ocean and as a way to boost trading relationships.

It was previously reported that Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China had struck a deal with Malaysia as part of its Maritime Silk Road plan. The deal aims to boost business relations between China’s Lianyungang Port and Malaysia’s Port Klang.

related:
New Silk Road Connects London
China in Multi-Billion Dollar Silk Road Drive
Thailand Proposes $20bn Silk-Road-Canal
China in $40 billion maritime plan
China in Silk-Road Policy Drive

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The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road

The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (Chinese: 丝绸之路经济带和21世纪海上丝绸之路), also known as The Belt and Road (abbreviated B&R), One Belt, One Road (Chinese: 一带一路; pinyin: Yídài yílù; abbreviated OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by People's Republic of China that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily in Eurasia, which consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR). The strategy underlines China's push to take a bigger role in global affairs, and its need to export China's production capacity in areas of overproduction such as steel manufacturing. It was unveiled by Chinese leader Xi Jinping in September and October 2013 in announcements revealing the SREB and MSR, respectively.

Silk Road Economic Belt - When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Central Asia and Southeast Asia in September and October of 2013, he raised the initiative of jointly building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road . Essentially, the 'belt' includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The initiative calls for the integration of the region into a cohesive economic area through building infrastructure, increasing cultural exchanges, and broadening trade. Apart from this zone, which is largely analogous to the historical Silk Road, another area that is said to be included in the extension of this 'belt' is South Asia and Southeast Asia. Many of the countries that are part of this 'belt' are also members of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Maritime Silk Road - The Maritime Silk Road, also known as the "21st Century Maritime Silk Road" (21世纪海上丝绸之路) is a complementary initiative aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through several contiguous bodies of water – the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area. The Maritime Silk Road initiative was first proposed by Xi Jinping during a speech to the Indonesian Parliament in October 2013. Like its sister initiative the Silk Road Economic Belt, most countries in this area have joined the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

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Reports from the Silk Road

In his separate visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia in September and October 2013, President Xi Jinping called for joint development of an "Economic Belt along the Silk Road" and a "Maritime Silk Road of the 21st Century".

The "Belt" and the "Road" are two major initiatives that China has made to deepen reform and opening-up and advance its neighborhood diplomacy. They have been written into the documents of the Third Plenum of the 18th CPC Central Committee, the Meeting on Neighborhood Diplomacy and the Central Economic Work Conference, and have been enthusiastically received both at home and abroad.

GT reporters were invited to China's Shaanxi, Gansu and Xinjiang, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan from May 21 to June 7 to learn about the Silk Road and the people who live along it.

related:
An eye on Xinjiang
China to strengthen media cooperation along Silk Road Economic Belt
Revisiting the Silk Road
19 cities to develop Silk Road tourism
Maritime Silk Road to bring closer China-Maldives ties
Turkey in bid to revive tourism along historical Silk Road


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Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road

With China being an important trading partner, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) courts more Chinese companies to choose the Lion City as a modern trade route.

SBF is leading a business mission in the 13th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) in Guangxi, China where it is promoting the city-state as a hub for the 21st century maritime silk road and modern connectivity.

“Guangxi is an increasingly important regional gateway between China and ASEAN. It is in close proximity to ASEAN countries and forms an important node connecting the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st century Maritime Silk Road. Through this mission, we hope to help businesses better understand and participate in the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, and showcase Singapore’s strengths as a modern connectivity hub to investors from China and the region,” said S S Teo, chairman of SBF.

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Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China
FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2015 file photo, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak, left, talks with China's President Xi Jinping as they arrive for a family photo with other leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Manila, Philippines. Following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent visit to China, Malaysia's prime minister is the latest leader of a state that claims territory in the South China Sea to travel to Beijing. Najib arrives in the Chinese capital on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 for a six-day visit to the country whose claims to virtually the entire strategic waterbody overlaps with areas that Malaysia says belong to it. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)  (The Associated Press)

Following Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's recent visit to China, Malaysia's prime minister is the latest leader of a nation that claims territory in the South China Sea to travel to Beijing.

Najib Razak arrives in the Chinese capital on Tuesday for a six-day visit to the country whose claims to virtually the entire strategic waterbody overlaps with areas that Malaysia says belong to it.

Malaysia claims a swath of the South China Sea north of Borneo, along with islands and reefs, but has been relatively understated amid feuding among fellow claimants China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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China master economic program its called "One Belt, One Road"
The Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, also known as The Belt and Road (abbreviated B&R), One Belt, One Road (abbreviated OBOR) or the Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy and framework, proposed by Chinese paramount leader Xi Jinping that focuses on connectivity and cooperation among countries primarily between the People's Republic of China and the rest of EuroAsia, which consists of two main components, the land-based "Silk Road Economic Belt" (SREB) and oceangoing "Maritime Silk Road" (MSR).

While China is in RCEP, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs (Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand).

So it is really about war of influence between China vs USA. USA with TPP and TTIP VS China with "One road, One Belt" (SREB and MSR)

related:
https://en.m.wikiped..._Belt,_One_Road
https://en.m.wikiped...d_Economic_Belt
https://en.m.wikiped...itime_Silk_Road
https://en.m.wikiped...mic_Partnership
https://en.m.wikiped...fic_Partnership
https://en.m.wikiped...ent_Partnership


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Thailand Proposes $20bn Silk-Road-Canal

A new canal situated in Southern Thailand called the Kra Canal could be included as part of China’s Maritime Silk Road plan.

According to World Maritime News, a feasibility study of the new canal has already been conducted and shows that the 26-metre-deep and less-than-100-kilometre-long waterway would cost around US$20bn.

Upon completion, the canal is to offer a route that will allow ships to avoid sailing through the Malacca Strait, a region that is expected to become heavily congested in the next ten years. The canal is also anticipated to save up to 48 hours for shipping companies transiting routes between Asia and Europe.

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New Silk Road to be 'project of the century'
China's president says the plan to build a modern-day Silk Road will be the 'project of the century'.
China's president says the country's multibillion dollar plan to build a modern-day Silk Road will be the 'project of the century'

The 'Belt and Road initiative' - as it is slightly awkwardly titled - is intended to recreate the trading routes of old overland and sea through central Asia, to Europe and beyond, with massive investment in infrastructure along the way.

The ambitious plans span at least 65 countries, including more than 60 per cent of the world's population, and 30 per cent of global GDP.

The estimated $US900b ($A1.2 trillion) cost would make it one of the most expensive development projects ever attempted, and many times the size of the US Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after the Second World War.

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Full Coverage:
29 World Leaders to Attend China's Belt and Road Forum
The $900bn question: What is the Belt and Road initiative?
Children Around the World Just Love Beijing's Trade Policies
UN to help Belt and Road countries improve national policy capacity
China says Silk Road plan is not tied to presidency
For one Chinese city, new Silk Road leaves old problems unsolved
Xi's US$500b push to shape world in China's image
The $900bn question: What is the Belt and Road initiative?
World's biggest building project aims to make China great again
China's big push for its global trade narrative
Just what is this One Belt, One Road thing anyway?
China's Silk Road forum latest effort to boost Xi's stature
OBOR's Flagship
China will seek to tie ambition to reality at 'Silk Road' summit
Xi's $500 Billion Push to Reshape the World in China's Image
Not Familiar With "Belt and Road"? Here it is Explained Using Children
Just what is this One Belt, One Road thing anyway?
Belt and Road Initiative attractive to countries promoting free trade
'Silk Road' plan stirs unease over China's strategic goals
Child won't sleep? Try explaining Xi Jinping's infrastructure dream to them
How US can work with China on Belt-and-Road
Xi Jinping's Silk Road under threat from one-way traffic
HSBC: China's first 'Belt and Road Forum' timely
Xi Jinping's big road is going to be bumpy
China's One Belt, One Road gamble
OBOR hope to developing countries in infrastructure development
Belt and Road Initiative brings Chinese, European dreams together
Belt and Road forum to promote infrastructure connectivity cooperation
Xi's US$500b push to shape world in China's image
How US can work with China on Belt-and-Road
Xi Jinping's Silk Road under threat from one-way traffic
The $900bn question: What is the Belt and Road initiative?
World's biggest building project aims to make China great again
China's big push for its global trade narrative
Child won't sleep? Try explaining OBOR infrastructure dream to them
Just what is this One Belt, One Road thing anyway?
China's Silk Road forum latest effort to boost Xi's stature
The One Belt One Road explained
China aiming for new era of globalisation
China will seek to tie ambition to reality at 'Silk Road' summit
'Silk Road' plan stirs unease over China's strategic goals
China Now Has a Rail Link Into the Heart of Europe
China's first 'Belt and Road Forum' timely
Belt and Road Initiative attractive to countries promoting free trade
Belt and Road Initiative brings Chinese, European dreams together
China's OBOR initiative
Not Familiar With the "Belt and Road"?
Xi Jinping's big road is going to be bumpy
China pushes back on West's One Belt, One Road narrative
North Korea to attend Belt and Road summit in Beijing: China
Russia to Propose Development of Integration at 'One Belt, One Road'
Nawaz leave for China on Friday to attend OBOR Conference
Nawaz Sharif's visit to boost Sino-Pak relations; promote OBOR
China Belt and Road Initiative for international cooperation
Mapped: China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative
China's OBOR initiative: In giant trade Belt, Road to new growth rush
Singapore can 'partner China in one belt one road initiative'
29 World Leaders to Attend China's Belt and Road Forum
How India can counter China's OBOR, One Belt, One Road, initiative
Greek PM to visit China on May 12-15 for 'Belt and Road Forum'
Use local currencies in China's Silk Road initiative for financial stability
Nepal decides to sign China's 'One Belt, One Road' initiative
China to advance Belt and Road Initiative despite challenges – ministry
Beijing's Expectations from Indonesia through Belt and Road Projects
Beijing ready for upcoming Belt and Road forum: spokesperson
PM to attend Belt and Road Forum in China
PM to visit China to attend belt and road forum
China's One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative heats up
Norway expects to promote ties with China within Belt & Road Initiative
What is China's One Belt, One Road?
China's One Belt, One Road gamble
India has doubts on China's One Belt, One Road project: Jaitley
'Belt and Road Series' debuts in 6 languages in Beijing ahead of Forum
CE to lead delegation to Belt & Road Forum for International Cooperation
Macau delegation attends the “Belt and Road” Forum in Beijing
Nepal Decides to Join China's One Belt, One Road Initiative
When It Comes to OBOR, Should We Fight or Learn From China?
China urges India to join One Belt, One Road project
China seeks closer ties with Saudi Arabia on 'Belt and Road Initiative'
CE to attend Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation
Asia to become new economic center of gravity for China's OBOR Initiative
Putin to play 'active' role in Belt and Road Forum, cites China partnership
UN chief: Belt and Road Initiative China's new vision to global development
Belt and Road Initiative to boost China-Egypt trade
In charts: China's Belt and Road Initiative
Japanese scholars call on gov to participate in OBOR Initiative cooperation
PH seeks 'convergence areas' in China's 'Belt and Road' initiative
Egypt focuses on China for banking expansion in light of OBOR Initiative
5 myths about Chinas One Belt One Road initiative
China Focus: Grasping career opportunities under Belt and Road Initiative
China's Belt and Road initiative: centrepieces and setbacks
Who Is Actually Attending China's Belt and Road Forum?
UAE strongly supports China's Belt and Road Initiative
Belt and Road Initiative fits well into world's sustainable development
Time for China to come clean on its goals for 'Belt and Road Initiative'
China's One Belt, One Road Financing Welcomes Local Currencies
OBOR: Enhancing Regional Economic Cooperation & Global Governance
TAKE A LOOK-China presents its "Silk Road" project to the world
Challenges, opportunities for Eurasian maritime silk road
Nepal's participation in Belt and Road forum to enhance ties
Backgrounder: Projects underway under Belt and Road Initiative
Watch: China's new Silk Road, explained for American children
China's new Silk Road
Belt and Road Forum expected to bring flurry of deals
Duterte: China's One Road project will boost regional 'connectivity'
China, Myanmar must cooperate to overcome challenges on OBOR
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One Belt, One Road, One Boondoggle?
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One Belt, One Road Opportunity to benefit US companies
North Korea sending team to Silk Road summit, says China
China says Silk Road plan is not tied to presidency
All roads lead to Beijing for Belt and Road Initiative
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China's official Belt and Road portal goes online

China's One Belt, One Road strategy creates business
ASEAN diplomats welcome China's One Belt, One Road initiative
One Belt, One Road: A brilliant plan - CLSA
One Belt, One Road - The Economist Intelligence Unit
One Belt One Road - CHINA US Focus
Prof. Shi Ze: “One Road & One Belt” & New Thinking With
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What exactly is 'one belt, one road'? | Chatham House
One Belt and One Road -Xinhua Finance Agency
One Belt One Road - CHINA US Focus
China's 'One Belt, One Road' Strategy - Defense News
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One Belt and One Road -Xinhua Finance Agency
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China flags off 1st goods train to London
China launches first freight train to Britain and will reach London in 18
China launches freight train to Britain
'China freight train' in first trip to Barking
China rail to London boosts One Belt, One Road
First China-U.K. Freight Train Departs as Xi Seeks to Lift Trade
China's freight train to London travels 12,000 km in 18 days
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'China freight train' in first trip to Barking
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The New Silk Road: China Launches Beijing-London Freight Train
China launches freight train to Britain
Freight train sets off on 7500 mile journey from China to Barking
Hungary first European country to sign up for China Silk Road plan
Hungary first European country to sign up for China Silk Road plan



WHAT BELT AND ROAD SNUB MEANS FOR SINGAPORE’S TIES WITH CHINA
Not invited: Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Photo: AFP
Not invited Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Photo: AFP

China’s decision not to invite Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to last weekend’s Belt and Road Forum highlights the still-strained ties between the two countries, observers say, though officials in the Lion City have tried to shrug off talk of any diplomatic rift.

Of the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) members, only three countries were not represented by their heads of government at the high-level summit in Beijing: Singapore, Thailand and Brunei. Twenty-nine national leaders and the representatives of 28 other countries attended the two-day meeting to discuss the China-led initiative to rebuild the ancient Silk Road trade route through a network of new ports, railways and roads.

The Singapore delegation was led by national development minister Lawrence Wong. In an interview with travelling Singaporean media, Wong revealed that the invitations were decided by China. It was the first official acknowledgement that Lee was not invited.

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China Snub Sees Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports. But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.


China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

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What China’s snub of Singapore means

But while nearly half of the 57 countries were not represented by their heads of government, foreign policy experts said Lee’s absence was conspicuous as it provided clues on the extent of the fallout following a protracted diplomatic spat between the two countries over the past year.

Xue Li, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences think tank, said China’s decision not to invite the Singaporean leader reflected a growing belief in Beijing that the Lion City sought only economic benefits from China, while “relying on the US for security”.

“China is gradually recognising this and therefore doesn’t really care if the Singapore PM attended or not,” Xue said.

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Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions
China Snub Means Singapore May Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

China’s plan for a maritime “Silk Road” to Europe is helping channel funds to Southeast Asia for roads, railways and ports.

But amid the deals bonanza, one country risks missing out. Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan.

read more

How China snubbed Singapore at the Belt and Road summit

Among the 29 Heads of State who converged on Beijing for the Belt and Road Summit earlier this week were leaders of seven of the ten ASEAN states. One leader was noticeably missing: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Various observers have noted this absence, including Hugh White, who suggested it was no co-incidence that, like others - Japan, India, Australia and ‘most western countries’ - who had not sent their national leaders to Beijing, Singapore was aligned with the US and uneasy about China’s rise – ‘or perceived to be so’.

However, it has since emerged that Singapore was never given the choice. China had not invited Singapore’s prime minister in the first place.

This is surprising, especially as Singapore has been one of the biggest advocates of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While many other states were initially hesitant in signing up to BRI, including some of its ASEAN neighbours, Singapore’s support has been unequivocal from the beginning. Many high-level co-operation talks between China and Singapore on the subject have taken place, with both sides warmly welcoming cooperation on BRI.


In light of this past co-operation, Beijing’s snub is significant. It is fair to conclude that, if China continues to freeze out Singapore, there could be significant implications on at least three levels:
  • What it might mean for Sino-Singapore relations
  • Implications for other middle powers
  • Implications for China’s role in the world

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The PM wasn’t invited to Beijing

IT DIDN’T escape notice that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wasn’t at the biggest diplomatic event held in China over the weekend. The guest list was filled with luminaries including his counterparts in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. There were in all 29 heads of state or government. Singapore was represented instead by Minister Lawrence Wong.
Asked why the PM Lee wasn’t there, he said that the invitation was decided by the Chinese.
So on Sunday, PM Lee was giving out flowers to his Ang Mo Kio constituents on the occasion of Mother’s Day, rather than hobnobbing with other leaders over what seemed to be the most ambitious economic project in recent time.

His absence in Beijing is intriguing and only serves to raise questions about whether Singapore and China had papered over their differences since the seizure of Singapore Armed Forces vehicles by Hong Kong authorities in November last year. Or are the Chinese still pissed off at Singapore’s lack of empathy over its position on the South China Sea?

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PM Lee’s absence in B&R forum in Beijing – is China still throwing a tantrum?

The reply by Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong, was a curious and perhaps a telling one.

When asked by reporters on Tuesday why Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was not attending the Belt and Road forum in Beijing, Mr Wong said “the invitation was decided by the Chinese”, according to the Straits TimesMr Wong did not seem to have elaborated on his answer.

PM Lee’s absence has not gone unnoticed, given how several leaders from Asean countries were among the 29 heads of states who apparently were invited and attended the forum which ran from 14-15 May. Considering that the forum was also an important one, for China especially, the fact that PM Lee was not there is quite curious. After all, Singapore and China share, at least according to official statements, “deep ties’.

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Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong not invited
The Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo and Malaysia’s Najib Razak in a photo shared on Najib’s Twitter account. Photo: Twitter

According to China state media South China Morning Post (SCMP), the China central government has confirmed that Lee Hsien Loong was deliberately left out of the invitation at the Belt and Road forum.

Of the 10 ASEAN countries, Singapore Prime Minister’s absence is painfully conspicuous because Singapore is supposed to take over the ASEAN Chairmanship next year (2018).

When interviewed by a foreign media why he was not invited to the China meeting, Lee Hsien Loong gave an awkward silence.

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South China Morning Post SCMP 19 hrs
Why wasn't Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong invited to China's Belt and Road Summit?

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China's Belt and Road project could bring opportunities and challenges to S'pore: Minister Lawrence Wong

When asked why Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong did not attend the Belt & Road Forum, which was attended by 29 heads of state & government, including many from South-east Asia, Mr Wong said the invitation was decided by the Chinese.

He noted that the focus of the forum was on outbound investments, & in getting Chinese investments abroad and encouraging Chinese companies to go overseas.

"We don't have any specific projects as of now that may be part of this Belt & Road (initiative) in terms of infrastructure," he said.

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related: Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
China Frictions May See Singapore Miss Out on Belt-Road Billions

Despite strong historical and cultural ties to China, the tiny state of Singapore has found itself in Beijing’s crosshairs, in part for its stance over territorial disputes in the South China Sea. As other Southeast Asian leaders lined up to meet President Xi Jinping at a summit in Beijing this week for his Belt-and-Road Initiative, Singapore was represented by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong.

China views Singapore as being less supportive of Xi’s plan because unlike other countries that announced their leaders would attend without requiring a formal invitation, Singapore sought an invite, according to people familiar with the matter. They asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information.
“The cooler political relationship between Singapore and China could have ripple effects which influence economic and trade relations,” said Lu Jianren, a researcher at the China-Asean Research Institute at China’s Guangxi University. “Singapore has been less proactive to work with China while many leaders in the region showed greater enthusiasm that they want Beijing to be more involved in Southeast Asian growth.”
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “I wouldn’t say we have major problems; we’ve had some issues and some incidents,” Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said of China, in an interview aired by the BBC in March.

read more

Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road
Picture

LET'S NOT BEAT around the bush. PM Lee Hsien Loong's absence at the New Silk Road summit currently taking place in China is a big deal.

Was he not invited or did he elect not to attend (and despatched National Development Minister Lawrence Wong instead)? The former seems the more plausible account. Either way, the development can only be described as doomy.

The summit, attended by 28 heads of government, is Beijing's way of announcing its intention of breaking out from under the United State's world domination, at least in the sphere of trade and commerce. Here are are five ways Beijing is doing this:
  • Melaka Gateway
  • East Coast Railway Line (ECRL)
  • New Silk Road
  • Arctic Route
  • Kra Canal
read more

New Silk Road 新絲綢之路 Xīn sīchóu zhī lù
The New Silk Road 新絲綢之路
Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China

Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road
The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)
Singapore - China Bilateral Ties
The Little Red Dot and the Red Dragon
Singapore China G-to-G Projects