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Belt and Road neither opposes nor apes United States

Editor: Zhang Dan 丨CCTV.com

05-15-2015 16:54 BJT

Full coverage: Panview - Belt and Road Initiative

By Xu Hui, College of Defense Studies, PLA National Defense University

The Belt and Road is the shorthand expression for the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, a strategic initiative proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping. What it is is not an attempt to seek geopolitical influence and spheres of influence. The Belt and Road is a concrete initiative that promotes pragmatic cooperation between China and countries along the routes, allowing all those countries to benefit from Chinese development.

There is a view you sometimes see expressed that the Belt and Road represents a response to the United States’ Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy. This conjecture appears reasonable, but it is actually a fundamental misunderstanding. The Belt and Road represents an extension and upgrade of the Western China Development Strategy. It is only natural to promote further development of China’s western regions by expanding toward Eurasia and even toward the European vision of economic development. This is completely different from the three-pronged US military, political and economic Asia-Pacific rebalancing strategy.

From the first stirrings of the global financial crisis in 2008, the Chinese government began to look west for new economic growth so as to reduce the impact of the economic recession from western countries. China at that time gradually strengthened its trade and cultural exchanges with central and western Asian countries. Over the last decade, countries along the routes have realized double-digit growth in trade, particularly infrastructure construction. Chinese investment was welcomed by most countries. It is estimated that the countries along the routes currently need about US$8 trillion in infrastructure funding, creating enormous investment potential. Implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative benefits the economic development of the countries. And it can also play a massive role in lifting the entire global economy out of recession.

As to Sino-US relations, the US Asia-Pacific Rebalancing Strategy is generally regarded by the international community as countering the rise of China. In response, the Chinese government – instead of changing its established communication policy with the US – offered to establish a new type of relations without conflict or confrontation and based on mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win strategy. China has repeatedly welcomed US participation in the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank and construction of the Belt and Road.

Some western scholars regard the Belt and Road Initiative as a Chinese version of the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan was a regional economic development assistance program, backed by a geopolitically competitive, confrontational and exclusive ideology in which the US was chief planner and investor to other countries who were the recipients.

The Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st century Maritime Silk Road, however, are totally different from the Marshall Plan. The Belt and Road Initiative is not ideological. Nor does the Chinese government offer one-way assistance to countries along the routes. There is no top-down plan. China emphasizes broad consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. More than 50 countries within and outside the region, rather than China alone, founded the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In the memory of Chinese people, “Silk Road” refers to the trade roads and paths of 2,000 years ago that connected the ancient civilizations and cultures of Asia, Europe and Africa in accordance with open and inclusive peaceful cooperation, mutual learning and a win-win spirit. It was a symbol of civilization, humanity’s progress. The exchanges and cooperation between countries along the routes was the world’s common cultural heritage.

In the 21st century, we are entering a new era of peace, development and win-win cooperation. It is even more important and valuable to inherit and carry forward the Silk Road spirit, particularly when facing the frail global economic recovery. Thus the Belt and Road Initiative promotes economic prosperity and regional economic cooperation between countries along the routes. The Belt and Road Initiative enhances exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations, promoting world peace and development. It is a great cause to benefit the peoples of the world.

The Belt and Road includes the turbulent Middle East, an undoubted challenge to successful implementation of the initiative. The author exchanged ideas with international peers including American scholars. Almost all offered the same advice: Don’t repeat US mistakes.

In the international community’s view, the US Middle East policy has been to deploy armed forces to enforce a western-style democratic transformation. With the end of the Cold War, the US has used such force almost non-stop in the Middle East. After 9.11, the US proposed an ambitious Greater Middle East Initiative, vowing to democratize the Middle East and expressed willingness to use force and change regimes in pursuit of that goal. The result was no side gained. With its powerful military advantage, the US won the war – but lost the peace. What’s more, the US paid a huge price while the Middle East became embroiled in chaos and turmoil.

For years, the Chinese government has pursued peaceful coexistence and insisted on putting aside disputes and seeking mutual development. In international relations, China opposed the use of force and interference in internal affairs. This policy not only ensured China’s peaceful development but also played a crucial role in managing the Asia-Pacific region disputes and safeguarding regional peace and stability. The Asia-Pacific political, economic and security situation contrasts notably with that of the Middle East.

There is no doubt that the Chinese government will continue to pursue the policy responsible for its past successes and in its own way assume the mantle of a powerful country in the cause of peace and development in the Middle East. The white paper on the Belt and Road Initiative adheres to open and cooperative, harmonious and inclusive principles, promoting market operation, mutual benefit and win-win cooperation. The March 2015 paper abides by the United Nations Charter and welcomes the participation of international and regional organizations, of countries inside and outside the region. The fruits of that joint contribution will benefit the wider region.

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

Panview offers an alternative angle on China and the rest of the world through the analyses and opinions of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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