A Look at China’s OBOR Initiative | 解读中国“一带一路”发展战略
Written by (作者): Alexandra Kobylchenko
Photos by (图片来源): icmu.nyc.gr
The “One Belt, One Road” (OBOR) initiative has been widely publicized since 2013. There are different points of view and theories about what it is, why it has appeared and how it will change the world. First off, “One Belt, One Road” is a development strategy focused on the cooperation and connectivity between the People’s Republic of China and the rest of Eurasia. To be exact, it accounts for 65 countries including China. The OBOR strategy consists of two main components: the land-based “Silk Road Economic Belt” and oceangoing “Maritime Silk Road”. The Silk Road itself was an ancient overland trade route stretching from China through central Asia to Europe’s borders. It connected East and West over land and sea and promoted exchange between Western and Eastern civilizations for over 600 years. The trade route brought together Chinese, Indian, Persian, Arabian, ancient Greek and Roman cultures.
In September 2013 Chinese president Jinping Xi initiated bringing it to the 21st Century under the name “One Belt, One Road”. He also called it “a foreign policy priority.” Why is it that important? China started opening up and grew into an economically powerful, important country in 30 years and it continues to grow. But what will happen after this process is over? The “One Belt, One Road” strategy is aiming for full openness, promoting economic cooperation and leading the country further. It redirects China to a new proactive foreign policy. Let’s have a closer look at what this strategy consists of.
What will be done after OBOR is unveiled? Firstly, the strategy will remove investment and trade barriers that will result in trade and investment facilitation. Countries along the Belt and Road may experience trade growth and improvement in trade structure. Secondly, the strategy includes infrastructure development. The infrastructure?network that is to be created will link together Asia, Europe, and Africa. Massive infrastructure build-ups have already begun. Key transportation passageways are being improved on: dirt roads are and have been converted into proper highways; railway tracks for high-speed trains are being nailed down; sea ports’ capabilities are being expanded; new airports are being built and existing ones are being enlarged; new gas and oil pipelines are being laid; a network of fiber-optic lines and satellite information passageways is being developed.
The OBOR is also focused on the promotion of people-to-people relations. Economic cooperation cannot take place without cultural exchange. While many people put economic growth as a top priority, the culture element should not be underestimated. China emphasizes the importance of the cultural exchange. Perhaps it should be the priority. Why is it such a critical part? “One Belt, One Road” covers over 60 nations that practice 4 of the world’s most popular religions. It is a kind of cultural phenomenon. China doesn’t plan on assimilating any of the cultures, but instead the government gives special attention to co-existence, mutual complementarity and innovation. Efforts will be made to strengthen educational and cultural cooperation including cross-nation student and education exchanges, to improve tourism cooperation, and to jointly organize research and hold forums.
Lastly, there is financial integration. This includes the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Fund. These institutions will provide financial support for the Belt and Road Initiative. The AIIB is a development bank that is dedicated to loaning for infrastructure projects, the legal framework of which was signed in June 2015. This proposed multilateral bank has an authorized capital of $100 billion, 75% of which comes from Asian and Oceanic countries. China is the single largest shareholder with 26% voting rights. The Silk?Road Fund was established in December 2014. It will mainly invest in infrastructure, energy development,?industrial and financial cooperation and will support the export of high-end technologies and production capacity. There are no strict geographical boundaries in the OBOR Initiative so the Silk Road Fund is free to invest in projects in any region within the route.
The number of countries that can benefit from the OBOR is significant. Chinese officials have stated that the route might extend to Australia and Japan as they were once excluded geographically and historically. Its hoped that the?Modern Silk Road can be open for them as well. China welcomes any country to join the strategy if that country is willing. Of course, while developing such a global project China will have to deal with challenges and obstacles. One of these is China’s domestic situation, which is the core of the whole, because as the initiator China must deal with domestic affairs properly. Furthermore, there may be some barriers alongside the Belt and Road. Many of those countries are developing countries that are not only faced with political and economic risks, but are also faced with security risks with threats of terrorism and religious extremism. If China fails to gain benefits from its overseas investments, it will turn out to be an abandoned construction project, which may bring political, diplomatic, and investment risks.
As a feature of this plan, the 1st China-CEEC (Central & Eastern European Countries) Investment & Trade Expo took place in Ningbo in June 2015. The expo featured 132 projects from sectors such as infrastructure, tourism, machine?manufacturing, food, and pharmaceuticals. The latest statistics from Ningbo Customs show that in the first quarter of 2016, Ningbo realized a total import and export volume with the CEECs of 3.35 billion RMB, up by 3.5% over the same period the year before. P2P interactions have also strengthened. In 2015, around 2,200 tourists from Ningbo visited the CEECs through package tours. During this year’s 2nd CEEC Expo, Air China will have charter planes from Ningbo to Budapest, Hungary and direct flights to Prague, the Czech Republic. The next step for cooperation between Ningbo and the CEECs will focus on the construction of cooperation parks between state-owned investment companies and private enterprises.
The OBOR policy is very important for China. Some critics may claim that this initiative is an attempt by the country to restore its former glory and dominate Asia, but it is clear that this New Silk Road is a path for the future of innovation and trade that will benefit China and the world.
自2013 年以来，“一带一路”政策受到了广泛关注。对于它的定义、提出原因以及将如何影响世界有多种观点和理论。首先，“一带一路”是一个着力于加强中国和其他亚欧国家之间互通合作的发展战略。准确地说，它涉及到包括中国在内的65 个国家。“一带一路”战略主要由两部分组成：“丝绸之路经济带”和“21 世纪海上丝绸之路”。丝绸之路是起始于古代中国，经过中亚通往欧洲边界的古代商业贸易路线。它从陆上和海上将中国、印度、波斯、阿拉伯、古希腊和罗马等国家联结起来，600 多年来一直促进着东西方文化之间的交流。
2013 年9 月，习近平主席首次提出“一带一路”战略构想，并称之为外交政策的一项重点内容。为什么它如此重要？改革开放30 多年来，中国经济高速发展，各项事业都取得了举世瞩目的巨大成就。然而，这个发展过程结束之后又将迎来什么呢？“一带一路”战略以全面开放、促进经济合作和引领国家走向更繁荣的未来为目标，引导国家开拓更具前瞻性的外交新思路。让我们来仔细解读下这个战略的各个部分吧。
最后一点是金融一体化，包括建立亚洲基础设施投资银行和丝路基金。这些机构将为“一带一路”提供财政支持。亚投行是一家专注于投资基础设施的开发银行，已于2015 年6 月签署了法律框架。这家多边银行的1000 亿美元法定资本，有70% 来自于亚洲和海洋大国。其中中国是最大的股东，持有26% 的表决权。丝路基金创建于2014 年12 月，主要投资基础设施建设、能源开发、产业与金融合作，扶持高端技术的出口和提高生产力。“一带一路”没有严格的地域界限，所以丝路基金可以投资沿线任何一个地区的项目。
作为该计划的一大特色，第一届中国- 中东欧国家投资和贸易博览会于2015 年6 月在宁波举办，共推出投资合作项目132 个，涉及基础设施、旅游、机械制造、食品、医药等领域。来自宁波海关的最新数据显示，2016 年一季度，宁波对中东欧国家进出口总额为33.5 亿元，同比增长3.5%。P2P 交互也得到了加强。2015 年，约2200 名游客跟团从宁波出发到中东欧国家旅游。在今年的第二届中国- 中东欧国家投资和贸易博览会期间，中国国际航空公司开通了从宁波至匈牙利布达佩斯的包机业务和直飞捷克共和国首都布拉格的航线。宁波和中东欧国家之间合作的下一个聚焦点将是国有投资公司和民营企业合作基地的建设。
Alexandra Kobylchenko is a 21-year-old student from Ukraine who was majoring in Chinese and English translation in her home country but wound up studying Chinese language at NBU. She fell in love with Ningbo and is currently studying International Business.
Alexandra Kobylchenko 是一个来自乌克兰的21 岁学生，曾在祖国主修中英文翻译，然后又到宁波大学学习中文。她很喜欢宁波这座城市，目前正就读于国际贸易专业。