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Belt and Road initiative

Topics Covered: Effect of policies and politics of developed and developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora.

Belt and Road initiative:


Context:

Xi hails ‘steady’ China-Bangladesh friendship, seeks joint promotion of Belt & Road Initiative.

What is BRI?

The Belt and Road Initiative, reminiscent of the Silk Road, is a massive infrastructure project that would stretch from East Asia to Europe.

It was launched in 2013.

  • The plan is two-pronged: the overland Silk Road Economic Belt and the Maritime Silk Road- The two were collectively referred to first as the One Belt, One Road initiative but eventually became the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • The project involves creating a vast network of railways, energy pipelines, highways, and streamlined border crossings.

Pakistan and BRI:

To date, more than sixty countries—accounting for two-thirds of the world’s population—have signed on to projects or indicated an interest in doing so.

  • Analysts estimate the largest so far to be the estimated $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a collection of projects connecting China to Pakistan’s Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

What was the original Silk Road?

The original Silk Road arose during the westward expansion of China’s Han Dynasty (206 BCE–220 CE), which forged trade networks throughout the Central Asian countries, as well as modern-day India and Pakistan to the south. Those routes extended more than four thousand miles to Europe.

How have other countries responded to BRI?

Some countries see the project as a disturbing expansion of Chinese power.

The United States shares the concern of some in Asia that the BRI could be a Trojan horse for China-led regional development and military expansion.

What does China hope to achieve?

China has both geopolitical and economic motivations behind the initiative.

  • The country has promoted a vision of a more assertive China, while slowing growth and rocky trade relations with the United States have pressured the country’s leadership to open new markets for its goods.
  • Experts see the BRI as one of the main planks of a bolder Chinese statecraft under Xi, alongside the Made in China 2025 economic development strategy.
  • The BRI also serves as pushback against the much-touted S. “pivot to Asia,” as well as a way for China to develop new investment opportunities, cultivate export markets, and boost Chinese incomes and domestic consumption.

India’s views:

India has tried to convince countries that the BRI is a plan to dominate Asia, warning of what some analysts have called a “String of Pearls” geoeconomic strategy whereby China creates unsustainable debt burdens for its Indian Ocean neighbors in order to seize control of regional choke points.

  • In particular, New Delhi has long been unsettled by China’s decades-long embrace of its traditional rival, Pakistan.

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Sources: the Hindu.