Weighing the Scale: China’s New Silk Road

Jul 14, 2019 | China, Gov, News

East Asia DeskKari.Amarnani author

China’s Belt and Road initiative plans to economically interconnect nations but at what cost?

The Silk Road is a region in Central Asia which has been used as a trading route by China for thousands of years. Unlike its name, the place is not actually a road or a passage— it is a district. And this district has allowed China to trade silk with India and countries in Central Asia. The Silk Road is a fundamental trading passage that has connected China to the West, factoring in many ways for its eventual success as a nation.

Merchandise was not the only thing that was traded in the Silk Road. There had been exchanges of knowledge, insight, cultures, values and beliefs. In 2013, China’s president, Xi Jinping, announced a belief of his own. He proposed the One Belt One Road initiative (OBOR) which entailed the development of a network of railways, pipelines and roads that would ultimately link China to Central Asia, South Asia and West Asia. With the expansion to Asia, Africa and Europe, the initiative may revolutionize free trade forever.

Changing the World: One Colossal Expansion Away

The OBOR may the biggest attempt at geographical integration in history. The structure would cover about 65% of the total population and a third of the world’s GDP. Let’s just say, Xi Jinping is extremely ambitious. If everything pans out the way he plans, globalization is in the midst. Many countries will economically benefit from the infrastructure and China will continue to reign in political influence and diplomacy.

This sounds all well and good, but there’s one teensy little problem. How much is that going to cost? The OBOR is a trillion dollar project and Xi Jinping has already spent about $25 billion in its projects. But this is not purely one-sided. All nations that want to benefit from the OBOR must shell out investments, and the counting total at the moment is 70 countries all over the world. Do all 70 countries have the means to afford such an extravagant expense? 

It’s the Thought That Counts: Debt-Trap Diplomacy

Countries have been hesitant to embark on this journey with China for obvious reasons. And China does not waste time soothing minds. China has regarded the initiative as a “road for peace”. The nation’s intention is not to exploit or enhance geopolitical influence, but to develop cultural understanding among all nations. The skepticism still stands.

Many nations, such as Japan and the United States are apprehensive that this may only be a ploy for China’s expansion and movement of a militia. If the OBOR becomes a reality, China would have India surrounded, and again, for obvious reasons, India opposes the OBOR. Hidden agendas aside, there is another reason for reluctance towards the initiative. 

Many analysts are stating that the OBOR is a debt-trap for many countries involved. When nations do not have the funds to reimburse a loan, they are more or less enslaved by China, obligated to find other ways to return on the investment. Finding other options for payment is China’s bread and butter. This tactic has accounted to much of the nation’s diplomatic immunities and allowances.

The accusations for debt-trap have swarmed Xi Jinping and he felt it was much needed to defend his initiative and provide new bouts of clarity. He spoke with conviction, “This is not a China club.” He plans to be inclusive and transparent about the entire process.

Could it really be? Are China’s intentions pure? Marina Rudyak who is taking her Ph.D. in Chinese Studies stated:

“The reason is not that simple as saying it’s because the Party wants it. We are neglecting those who genuinely want to change something, those who came out of poverty and now want to help others to be less poor.”

What we know for sure is Asia is in much need for developed infrastructure and who would better suited to handle this than the growing Asian giant? China’s ambition and determination may lead to a new world. Let’s just hope nothing shade happens in the sidelines.

Indonesia: Banning of Western Songs in Sparks Outrage

Indonesian artists and music-lovers expressed disappointment and anger over a new draft law which aims to limit musical content deemed “pornographic” in nature.

Top Amusement Parks in Japan

Japan redefines amusement with these three amusement parks that are a must for all travelers

Getting To Know The Asian Skin Care Regimen

The ultimate guide to the achieve the radiant-looking Asian Skin complexion

Young Whale Found Dead in the Philippines with 40 Kilos of Plastic

A tale of heartbreak – a dead whale was found in the shores of the Philippines. Marine biologists are calling it the worst case of plastic ingestion.

Singapore’s Workaholic Culture: A Cause for Concern

Singapore’s toxic workaholic culture is causing long-term damage to the population.

A Solo Backpacker’s Bangkok Guide

Traveling to Bangkok alone can be challenging, here’s how-to guide to make it easy

KAWS Sculpture Reminds Everyone In Hong Kong To Relax

In an attempt to offer citizens a breather from the hustle and bustle of the city life, New York-based celebrity artist Brian Donnelly, KAWS, collaborated with Hong Kong to bring the famous blow-up sculpture to the city

Asian Beauty Standards: The Real Ideals

Why is radiance more than ‘skin-deep’ in Asia?

China To Launch The World’s “First 5G Railway Station”

China is now ready to launch what is touted as the “world’s first 5G railway station” at the Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station, with China Mobile and Huawei at the helm of the project.

City Profile: Macau in the 21st Century

Macau continues to be a relevant global outpost for trade and economy in the 21st century