OPINION | China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’: A Roadmap to ‘Chinese Dream’?
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IndraStra Global

OPINION | China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’: A Roadmap to ‘Chinese Dream’?

By Amrita Jash
Editor-in-Chief, IndraStra Global

OPINION | China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’: A Roadmap to ‘Chinese Dream’?

Following the 18th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in 2012, newly minted General Secretary Xi Jinping shared the strategically ambitious vision of the Chinese Dream. Xi’s Chinese dream calls for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. The central objectives lie in twin goals: to create a well-off society by 2020 and to achieve rejuvenation of the Chinese nation by 2050 via national rejuvenation and socialist modernization.

From this perspective, the Chinese Dream and Xi Jinping’s aspirations of making China a more responsible actor in the global stage are linked. Increasing internal rejuvenation and external standing would fulfill the objective of elevating China to its erstwhile great power status. Unfortunately, the unparalleled phenomenon of China’s peaceful rise has given way to concerns over China’s threat. This development creates a dilemma over China’s future goals and raises questions over whether China can become a responsible stakeholder.  To quell the concerns, China’s proactive policy of building the ‘New Silk Road’ acts as the strategy to fulfill its dream of becoming a great and responsible power.


Map Attribute: China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’

In this complex environment, the most pressing challenge for China lies in balancing its actions to fulfill Xi’s dream with the expectations accorded a responsible actor. There lies a discord in the increasingly assertive Chinese behavior in terms of becoming a strong global player (such as China’s muscle flexing in South China Sea and East China Sea) which has significantly eroded perceptions of China’s aspirations as a responsible actor. Identifying China’s reputation cost, given the decline in its charm offensive in Asia, President Xi Jinping in 2013 posited a new theorem of great power diplomacy under China’s ‘New Silk Road’ Strategy- a policy that is designed to project China’s responsive and constructive behavior. This is a two pronged strategy based on building the ‘Silk Road Economic Belt’ and the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’-  dubbed as the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative. With China at the center, this robust initiative aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe by land and sea routes.

What drives China’s such proactive diplomacy needs deliberation. China claims the effort is intended to build and deepen positive-sum, mutually beneficial development ties for all parties concerned. However, from a rational viewpoint, China’s proactive diplomacy tactic goes beyond simple ‘win-win’ calculus. The policy is strategic and serves China’s own national interest rather than merely collective interest.  Does this strike the correct balance between pursuit of Dream and global responsibility? Xi’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ (OBOR) could provide the foundation. The initiative aims to improve and strengthen China’s diplomatic relations. And it intends to do so by enhancing connectivity by the creation of new trade networks and infrastructure investment as part of the new initiatives. Specifically, the OBOR strategy calls for increased diplomatic coordination, standardized and linked trade facilities, free trade zones and other trade facilitation policies, financial integration promoting the renminbi, and people-to-people cultural education programs throughout nations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. From this perspective, OBOR is more about turning geopolitics and geo-economics into a strategic advantage for securing China’s own national interests.

What makes ‘One Belt, One Road’, a roadmap to the Chinese dream is the twin pillars of economic   development and security interests. First, the ‘Economic Belt’ policy is intended to jump-start economic modernization in western China, which has been overlooked as economic reforms were mainly concentrated in eastern China. The goal is to promote an all round geographical development of China. Additionally, it aims to open new export markets by looking westward of China.  This is directly linked to China’s desired transition from export-oriented growth model to that of a consumption based and outward investment growth model for its own economic rebalance. Second, the ‘Maritime Silk Road’ will help to secure China’s foothold in the maritime domain. The construction of ports and related facilities aims to extend China’s maritime reach across the Indian Ocean via the Suez Canal, into the Mediterranean basin. Here, the objective is to secure its Sea Lines of Communications (SLOCs) which carry 90 percent of its trade and energy supplies. And additionally, a secured maritime posture would also strengthen China’s naval military ambitions. Attaining these goals will theoretically result in a strong government, a prosperous economy, a harmonious society, and a strong military- the key elements needed in order to realize Xi’s dream.

How money moves on OBOR /  / Source: AIIB Chart, Breakbulk.com

China’s OBOR strategy could also demonstrate that China is a responsible global actor- dream of great power can only be fulfilled by taking great responsibility. By building greater connectivity through a win-win framework, the New Silk Road project will help remove concerns caused by China’s rise. For if China succeeds in realizing the ambitious plan, then Beijing will emerge as responsible stakeholder by acting as the principal architect and key force behind economic and diplomatic Eurasian integration. This attempt, as a non-coercive and a non-military effort, could significantly elevate China’s international image as a responsible actor in the global domain, therefore, dispelling some concerns of the China threat. Adding to China’s responsibility image is the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) which will provide a significant alternative to the western-dominated Bretton Woods institutions. China’s AIIB initiative is structured to boost China’s status as global power as it will provide poor and underdeveloped economies an equal platform to play an active and bigger role in the international political economy.

Overall, President Xi’s grand plan of reviving the ancient Silk Road through OBOR initiative is the headway to realize the dream of great rejuvenation by becoming both a powerful and responsible global actor.

About The Author:

Amrita Jash (K-5665-2015) is Editor-in-Chief at IndraStra Global and a Doctoral Candidate at the Centre for East Asian Studies (Chinese Division), School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. Twitter ID: @amritajash

Cite This Article:

Jash, Amrita. "OPINION | China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’: A Roadmap to ‘Chinese Dream’?" IndraStra 002, no. 02 (2016): 0030 .http://www.indrastra.com/2016/02/OPINION-Chinas-One-Belt-One-Road-Roadmap-to-Chinese-Dream-002-02-2016-0030.html. ISSN 2381-3652, https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.2247448

AIDN0020220160030/ INDRASTRA / ISSN 2381-3652