The G7 is expected to launch a ‘Clean Green Initiative’ to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative when leaders meet at a summit next week in UK. The strategy would provide a framework to support sustainable development and the green transition in developing countries. Germany, France and Italy are keen for it to support activities in Africa, while the U.S. is pushing for action in Latin America and Asia. Japan argues for more focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
China’s new model of International Relations actually isn’t all that new but is basically a revival of the world order that the UN originally envisioned since its founding but which had yet to materialize due to the Cold War and America’s subsequently failed efforts to impose its unipolar hegemony.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi articulated his country’s new model of International Relations while speaking to journalists on Sunday during the ongoing two sessions gathering in Beijing. He credited the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) for guiding China’s foreign policy and promised that it will always do everything to uphold the UN Charter’s principles of democracy, justice, equality, and multilateralism. About the last-mentioned one, Foreign Minister Wang reminded everyone that selective multilateralism is still group thinking, which slows down humanity’s irreversible march towards a community of shared future. It must be avoided, and all countries should embrace true multilateralism as envisioned by the UN instead.
China’s relations with the US must be based on the principle of non-interference in domestic affairs. In particular, the US must stop meddling in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the South China Sea. The Chinese nation’s reunification is inevitable, Foreign Minister Wang said, while all countries including China hold firm to the principle that only patriotic forces should be allowed to run for public office such as what is presently being proposed for the Hong Kong Special Autonomous Region. As for false rumors of “genocide” in Xinjiang, he encouraged the whole world to visit the region for themselves to see that its people are doing better than ever. With reference to the South China Sea, he condemned the US’ provocative “freedom of navigation” patrols.
Nevertheless, Foreign Minister Wang said that China hopes that the US will remove all obstacles for dialogue and cooperation. He reaffirmed that competition between the two is natural, but must be healthy, fair, just, and responsibly managed in pursuit of mutual enhancement. The diplomat quoted a Chinese saying about “seeking harmony without uniformity” to show his respect for systemic diversity in the world. All countries should be free to choose whichever model is best for them, whether that’s the Chinese, American, or some other one. None of them, however, should smear the others or aspire for supremacy. It’s only through these means that the whole world can truly embrace the philosophy of win-win cooperation.
About that, China’s engagement with the rest of the world is predicated on its vision of a community of shared future for mankind, which is brought closer to reality through the Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) and the country’s new development paradigm of dual circulation. BRI’s major projects such as its flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) have forged ahead despite the pandemic, even evolving to the point of creating the complementary Digital, Green, and Health Silk Roads. All of these initiatives embody multilateralness and openness, which are in full conformity with the principles of Xi Jinping Thought that form the foundation for China’s new model of International Relations.
Foreign Minister Wang also spent considerable time discussing China’s relations with each of the world’s regions. He refuted the false claims that China is trying to divide the EU from the US and said that China and the EU aren’t systemic rivals but civilizational partners with shared interests. The diplomat also defended last year’s Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) and said that it isn’t aimed against any third party. As for Africa, Foreign Minister Wang praised China’s ties with it as a model of South-South cooperation. Additionally, he pledged more support for its economic recovery, BRI projects, and COVID-19 vaccines. With regards to West Asia, he brought up China’s proposal for a multilateral Gulf dialogue platform to ensure peace and security.
China’s comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia sets an example of strategic mutual trust and has proven its resiliency in fighting against the dual COVID-19 and political viruses, including Color Revolutions and disinformation campaigns. Foreign Minister Wang announced that they’ll further synergize BRI and the Eurasian Economic Union, and both countries will continue upholding the UN-centric world order, multilateralism, and international law and norms. Ties with India are also important, he said, since cooperation between the world’s two largest developing nations is an integral component of what he predicted will be the Asian Century. As for ASEAN and Latin American ties, these are marked by COVID-19 cooperation, improved trade, and trust.
From all of this, it can be seen that China’s new model of International Relations actually isn’t all that new but is basically a revival of the world order that the UN originally envisioned since its founding but which had yet to materialize due to the Cold War and America’s subsequently failed efforts to impose its unipolar hegemony. This crucial observation debunks the false claims that China is a so-called “revisionist power”. It’s not “revising” anything, but rather is advocating for a return to the UN-enshrined principles of the post-World War II order, albeit with gradual reforms implemented in a responsible fashion to ensure greater representation for fellow developing countries. This model of International Relations will inevitably create a community of shared future.
The Future Of The Belt & Road Initiative In The Dual Circulation Era
11 DECEMBER 2020
China’s new development paradigm of dual circulation is not a repudiation of its prior BRI-driven model of globalization, but is actually complementary to it. Observers shouldn’t forget that many of the hundreds of billions of dollars of BRI-related loans are for long-term infrastructure investments.
The Financial Times published an article on Tuesday titled “China curtails overseas lending in face of geopolitical backlash”. It reported on a recent study by researchers at Boston University which found that the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China only lent $4 billion last year compared to $75 in 2016. The outlet then relies heavily on a report from thepartially US government-funded“Overseas Development Institute” and a Chatham House expert to editorialize that this due to the alleged model of prioritizing Chinese interests over recipient countries’ and the “reputational damage” caused by Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) deals.
These interpretations are inaccurate and likely being promoted only to smear BRI. It’s also suspicious that the quoted Chatham House expert claimed without any evidence that the Chinese public is pressuring decision makers to curtail international lending in order to focus on revitalizing the domestic healthcare industry after COVID-19. The fact of the matter is that China’s healthcare system succeeded in containing the pandemic and saving countless lives. While every system in any country across the world continually seeks to improve, China’s has proven itself to be far superior to most of its peers in this respect, so that point is a propagandist one.
The only other element of value in the Financial Times’ article besides the statistics that they cited in the introduction was the explanation provided by Kevin Gallagher, director of the Boston University Global Development Policy Center, which compiled the data. He attributed this drastic decline in international lending to the US’ trade war against China. That development was the first serious structural change in the global economy since the end of the Cold War, hence why his theory that China wanted to keep dollar assets at home because of the prevailing uncertainty makes a lot of sense.
Still, these observations raise questions about BRI’s future, but there’s actually nothing to be worried about even if China’s international lending remains low for the foreseeable future. The global economy is in the midst of crisis due to the world’s uncoordinated efforts to contain COVID-19, and certain protectionist trends have proliferated to the point of becoming commonplace in many countries. That doesn’t mean that the era of globalization is over, but just that it’s presently undergoing a transformation, and it might still take some time for the entire world to recover to the pre-COVID-19 status quo.
As these complex processes unfold, China also recently unveiled its new development paradigm of dual circulationwhereby domestic and international circulation will be equally prioritized. This pragmatic policy will enable the world’s largest marketplace to flexibly react to the forthcoming shocks that are expected to continue shaking the global economy during this era of uncertainty. It is not, however, a repudiation of its prior BRI-driven model of globalization, but is actually complementary to it. Observers shouldn’t forget that many of the hundreds of billions of dollars of BRI-related loans are for long-term infrastructure investments.
Many of these have yet to fully materialize, such as those connected to BRI’s flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has already attracted at least $60 billion worth of investments, but their projected implementation is such that they should all be completed by the end of the decade at the latest. That should be more than enough time for the global economy to recover, prior to which Pakistan and China’s other BRI partners will continue to develop as they finish constructing their planned large-scale infrastructure projects. These will in turn enable them to increase their exports to the growing Chinese economy.
The dual circulation paradigm wouldn’t be possible without BRI, and all BRI countries will benefit from this new development paradigm since they’ll have greater access to the Chinese economy. While China’s international lending might remain low as it prioritizes more domestic projects, the seeds that hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of BRI investments have planted across the world will continue to grow in the interim, thus mutually reinforcing each other’s economies. As China grows, so does the world, and vice-versa, with BRI being the bridge connecting them all together towards the ultimate goal of a community of shared future for mankind.
TAIWAN-US: Taiwan and the US are moving ahead with a plan to finance infrastructure and energy projects in Asia (and Latin America) to counter China’s global infrastructure BRI, amid concerns about Beijing’s commitment to international projects and worsening finances among developing countries.
China’s BRI progress has showed strong resilience despite coronavirus. Major projects are progressing smoothly. China-Laos railway, China-Thailand railway, Jakarta-Bandung High-Speed Railway, and Hungary-Serbia Railway are all making positive headway. The China-Europe freight rail service network has also expanded, reaching 21 countries and 92 cities.
MALAYSIA:Another Belt and Road project was canceled in Malaysia, after the government of the Malaysian state of Melaka terminated an agreement with the main developer of a BRI infrastructure project Melaka Gateway, raising questions about BRI future projects in the country.
REGIONAL:Central Asian NGOs experts are calling on their governments to strengthen oversight of Belt and Road Initiative projects as anger rises over their environmental and social impacts. Chinese investment in the region has mainly been in infrastructure and extractive industries, attracted by the region’s mineral deposits and hydrocarbons.
TURKEY:As part of the Belt and Road Initiative, Turkey will build a transit-loan based main container port in the Eastern Mediterranean, which will operate as a gateway to the Middle East and Central Asia.
TURKEY:Turkey is planning to increase the volume of cooperation with the BRI-related countries in terms of enabling the Middle Corridor, which lies at the heart of the BRI linking Turkey to Georgia and Azerbaijan via rail, crossing the Caspian Sea and reaches China through Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan. Turkey is set to become an important center for the BRI. The country will build a transit-loan based main container port in the Eastern Mediterranean, which will be operating as a gateway to the Middle East and Central Asia.