BRI: New Decade, New Investment and New Development | By Dr MehmoodUl Hassan Khan
The Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has completed its ten years and now entered into next decade of development, connectivity and multiculturalism. Since its inception in 2013 the BRI has successfully transformed Xi’s vision of greater regional connectivity through massive investments in member countries.
Moreover, Xi recently announced Global Development Initiative (GDI), Global Security Initiative (GSI) and Global Civilizational Initiative (GCI) have become supplemental to the further growth of BRI in all the participating countries which is good omen.
The BRI has now become iconic platform for socio-economic development and infrastructure growth in all the member countries. According to OECD report more than 151 countries have joined the BRI. More than 35 international organizations have been registered with the BRI. Moreover, the member countries of the BRI represents 75 percent of the world population and 50 percent of global GDP and its popularity is getting more momentum after the announcement of the Xi’s opening-up and modernization of Chinese economy.
Moreover, during last ten years, China signed more than 200 Belt and Road cooperation documents forming more than 3,000 cooperation projects showing its global outreach and regional strategic significance.
Furthermore, the BRI initiative has stimulated an investment scale of over $1 trillion, created 420,000 jobs for countries along the route, and lifted more than 40 million people out of poverty.
Interestingly, in the past 10 years under the BRI, Pakistan has laid 880 kilometers of road networks, 13 new energy projects have been put into operation, and more than 8,000 megawatts of electricity have been added to the national grid.
According to the Department of Regional Opening-Up under National Development and Reform Commission in 2021, China’s trade in goods with BRI countries totaled 11.6 trillion yuan ($1.67 trillion), accounting for nearly 30 percent of China’s total foreign trade,. As of July 2022, China had signed more than 200 BRI cooperation agreements with 149 countries and 32 international organizations.
The BRI is a unique international initiative. It has brought a lot of benefits to African countries in terms of developing the local economy and making the region more sustainable economically,
The West’s slanders about debt-traps are just groundless accusations against China because all African countries know that the BRI has truly helped African countries to develop without pre-conditions.
In this regard, China’s recent agreements with the Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Algeria, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and many African countries on regional cooperation during 2023 vividly reflects its strong commitment to bring new development opportunities to the world in the new decade.
The BRI has been an expansive global venture aiming at fostering economic cooperation and regional connectivity through infrastructure development. It also fosters integrated, interactive and coordinated development activities in promoting cross-cultural exchange, health, green living, and modern technology and last but not least human capital development in all the member countries.
The BRI’s primary was started to construct an extensive network of infrastructure development including mega projects in transportation, energy and mining sectors, building of railways, highways, ports, airports, and pipelines, connecting China to numerous countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa.
By virtue of the Xi vision of community with shared future, the BRI has succeeded to develop a more extensive and mutually reliant marketplace and is now promoting culture of digitalized economy, e-commerce and last but not least Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the member countries.
In the last decade BRI has established to outstanding mega projects namely, the China-Europe express railway and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). According to many published reports, the China-Europe freight train achieved a milestone in 2021 with 15,000 trips a remarkable increase of 22 percent from 2020. The transportation service delivered an impressive volume of goods amounting to 1.46 million TEU containers reflecting an outstanding growth rate of 29 percent.
It spans across European cities with 78 operational lines, making it easier for over fifty thousand types of products to be transported efficiently. With this well-established logistics distribution system in place throughout Eurasia, several other infrastructure projects, such as Hungary-Serbia railway and China-Laos railway are going to become strategic expansion in the BRI network.
The CPEC framework aims paradigm shift in policy making of Pakistan encouraging moving towards Geo-Economics brightening the prospects of connecting with Central Asian Countries through energy projects, transport infrastructure, the port of Gwadar and the development of industrial cooperation. It hopes that the CPEC would help the latter in strengthening national development and, most importantly, benefiting local people.
The research studies of BRI’s last decade confirms geopolitical struggle of the US and the west against China. The Obama administration’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ and the Trump administration’s ‘BUILD Act’ were primarily focused on infrastructure development and cooperation among low-income countries, thus started a counter-BRI grand policy. In 2021, President Joe Biden launched the ‘Build Back Better World Initiative (B3W)’, along with G7 member nations, as a program for investment in infrastructure aimed at competing against BRI. Moreover, the EU also announced its own version of BRI namely Global Gateway Project (GGP) mainly in Africa to counter the Chines increasing economic cooperation.
Thus the US and the west geopolitical gaming remained active during the last decade to slow-down the BRI however, with the passage of time more and more countries and organizations joined it and rejected borrowed wisdom and weaponizing notions.
In summary, the BRI has brought numerous socio-economic benefits to the member countries and regions building a broad path for common development. It has attracted the participation of more than three-fourths of the countries in the world and 32 international organizations.
Frankly speaking, the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, and supply chain shocks remained the main hurdles during the last ten years which should be now resolved with the BRI spirits of extensive consultation, joint contribution, and shared benefit.
To conclude, the BRI has become hope of economic stability, sustainability, socio-economic prosperity, infrastructure development, economic diplomacy, service to humanity, symbolism of poverty eradication and last but not least, regional connectivity in the world.
It has successfully laid down the foundations of multiculturalism, health care, green transformation, economic corridors, integrated transport systems and last but not least, qualitative life in all the member countries.
It hopes that next decade would be more productive in terms of human capital, digitalization, e-commerce, electrical automobile, modernization, environment’s friendly industrialization, innovations, financial integration, energy & food security and last but not least sustainable industrial supplies chains.
It predicts that caravans of socio-economic prosperity and greater regional connectivity between South Asia and Central Asia would be further strengthened under the flagship of CPEC Phase-II in Pakistan which would be good omen for all the regional economies, societies and political systems in the days to come.