In the ancient time, China was connected to the rest of the world through the Silk route which got its name from its biggest export silk. Today, China is looking to rebuild a route that will connect Asia, Africa, and Europe as New Silk Road. Under this plan “The One Belt One Road” was announced by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013. After this many projects have been launched in various countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan, Thailand, Kenya and Vietnam and these are financed by Chinese loans.
The One Belt One Road (OBOR) will include roads, railways, and ports to connect various countries in Asia, Africa and Europe. Its aim is to promote economic activities among member countries. China believes that one day every nation will have to join OBOR because it will be the largest business group in the world. However, countries like India, Japan, South Korea oppose it. India believes that in the name of the business and economic activity China will try to push its political agenda. China may interfere in Kashmir. China has already built a highway in disputed Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India has lodged its objection in this regard.
On the other hand, China says that it has never wished to control any other country. Chinese say, “We feel in contacts between countries, we need to talk about studying benefits, studying mutual profit.” The expansionist agenda of China cannot be ruled out. Some Western diplomats, too, have been wary in their response to the proposed trade corridor, seeing it as a land grab designed to promote China’s influence globally.
China had held a conference centred around OBOR in Beijing. The representatives from 29 countries and international organisations were present in the conference, including the US, Russia and the IMF. India stayed away from it.
Opposing the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which runs through a part of Kashmir, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called the route a colonial enterprise” that threatens to strew debt and broken communities in its wake. He even boycotted the recent One Belt One Road summit in Beijing. No officials from Japan, South Korea or North Korea attended it.
According to the Belt and Road Action Plan, the initiative will encompass land routes (the “Belt”) and maritime routes (the “Road”) with the goal of improving trade relationships in the region primarily through infrastructure investments.
Beijing says that it will ultimately lend as much as $8 trillion for infrastructure in 68 countries. That adds up to as much as 65 per cent of the global population and a third of global GDP. Sixty-two countries could see investments of up to US$500 billion over the next five years. China’s vast industrial overcapacity – mainly in the creation of steel and heavy equipment – could find lucrative outlets along the New Silk Road, and this could allow Chinese manufacturing to swing towards higher-end industrial goods. There’s no doubt that China is growing into a geopolitical heavyweight. As some Western countries move backwards by erecting walls, China is contriving to build bridges, both literal and metaphorical.
Pakistan is one of the New Silk Road’s foremost supporters. Then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif had said the trade route marked the dawn of a truly new era of intercontinental cooperation. Pakistan is poised to be benefited from $46 billion in new roads, bridges, wind farms, and other China-backed infrastructure projects. CPEC involves power plants, roads, and railways that will span the length of Pakistan and link China’s western region of Xinjiang to the Gwadar port.
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