Extract: Rooted in history, the BRI carries forward the Silk Road spirit
At around 140 BC during China’s Han Dynasty, Zhang Qian, a royal emissary, made a journey to the West from Chang’an (present-day Xi’an in Shaanxi Province), opening an overland route linking the East and the West. Centuries later, in the years of the Tang, Song and Yuan dynasties, silk routes boomed both over land and at sea, facilitating trade between the East and the West. In the early 15th century, Zheng He, the famous Chinese navigator of the Ming Dynasty, made seven voyages to the Western Seas, which boosted trade along the maritime silk routes.
For thousands of years the ancient silk routes served as major arteries of interaction, spanning the valleys of the Nile, the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus and Ganges, and the Yellow and Yangtze rivers. They connected the birthplaces of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Indian and Chinese civilizations, the lands of the believers of Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, and the homes of peoples of different nationalities and races. These routes increased connectivity among countries on the Eurasian continent, facilitated exchanges and mutual learning between Eastern and Western civilizations, boosted regional development and prosperity, and shaped the Silk Road spirit characterized by peace and cooperation, openness and inclusiveness, mutual learning and mutual benefit.
Presentation and Introduction by Said El Mansour Cherkaoui – 10/20/23
The BRIC acronym was created in 2001 by Jim O’Neill, a Goldman Sachs economist. The BRIC countries were established in 2014. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was established in 2014 by the BRIC countries.
The BRIC acronym stands for fast-growing economies that O’Neill predicted would dominate the global economy by 2050. The BRIC countries were formalized in 2006 during the first BRIC Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in New York City. The first BRIC summit was held in Yekaterinburg, Russia on June 16, 2009. The BRIC countries became a formal institution in 2010.
Xi Jinping is the 7th President of the People’s Republic of China and the 18–20th General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party. He has been the paramount leader of China since 2012. He has made 42 international trips to 69 countries. Xi Jinping was born on June 15, 1953. He is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
Building the Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI
In March 2013, President Xi Jinping proposed the vision of a global community of shared future. In September, President Xi Jinping announced the BRI in September 2013 during his visit to Kazakhstan and in October that year, he raised the initiatives of joining with others to build a Silk Road Economic Belt and a 21st Century Maritime Silk Road (Belt and Road Initiative, or BRI).
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a massive infrastructure of China global development strategy based on economic development projects. It was originally devised to link East Asia and Europe through physical infrastructure. The BRI has poured hundreds of billions of dollars to power the construction of: Bridges, Ports, Highways, Power plants, Telecoms projects. The BRI has been used in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and parts of Europe.
“The Belt and Road Initiative is a creative development that takes on and carries forward the spirit of the ancient silk routes – two of the great achievements in human history and civilization. It enriches the ancient spirit with the zeitgeist and culture of the new era, and provides a platform for building a global community of shared future.
Since its launch 10 years ago, thanks to the combined efforts of all parties, cooperation under the BRI framework has expanded beyond the borders of China to become an international effort. It has evolved from ideas into actions, from a vision into reality, and from a general framework into concrete projects. It has been welcomed by the international community both as a public good and a cooperation platform, and has achieved solid results ensuring that the efforts of building a global community of shared future deliver
Over the past decade, BRI cooperation has delivered real gains to participating countries. It has contributed to the sound development of economic globalization and helped to resolve global development challenges and improve the global governance system. It has also opened up a new path for all humanity to realize modernization, and ensured that the efforts of building a global community of shared future are delivering real results.”
As of August 2023, 155 countries had signed up to the BRI. The participating countries include almost 75% of the world’s population and account for more than half of the world’s GDP. The BRI’s goal is to invest in more than 150 countries and international organizations. The BRI’s planned completion date is 2049. The BRI started as a program for Chinese companies to build transportation, energy, and other infrastructure overseas. The BRI is funded by Chinese development bank loans.
Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Road of Friendship
Russian leader Vladimir Putin was given the red carpet treatment at a global summit in Beijing, as China and Russia deepen their solidarity. Hosted by China’s President Xi Jinping, the meeting celebrated 10 years of his signature foreign and economic policy, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
President Putin was the Guest of Honor at the 2023 Belt and Road Forum was held in Beijing, China.
In an interview with Chinese state media on Monday, October 16, 2023, Putin said Xi “calls me his friend, and I call him my friend.”
The Russian president added that there is a saying, “Tell me who your friend is, and I will tell you who you are.” He went on: “Therefore, if I now praise Chairman Xi Jinping, I will feel somehow uncomfortable – it’s like I’m praising myself. So I’ll try to be objective.”
Putin described his Chinese counterpart as “one of the recognized world leaders” who does not “make a momentary decision based on some current situation, he assesses the situation, analyzes and looks into the future.”
Putin Praising the Belt and Road Initiative following the in-depth talks talk that Putin and Xi shared together on October 18, 2023. In the Russian president’s speech at the forum, he praised Xi for the successes of the Belt and Road Initiative, saying: “Our Chinese friends did it.”
Speaking to 1,000 delegates representing over 130 countries, Putin said he agreed with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the Belt and Road idea “folds logically within multilateral efforts” to increase global cooperation. “In the European part of Russia, we form an international north-south corridor.
President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and invited global investment in the Northern Sea route which he said could deepen trade between east and west.
Speaking on his second known trip outside the former Soviet Union since the Ukraine war, Putin thanked the Chinese leader for his invitation and said Russia could play a key role in China’s modern day revival of the ancient Silk Road.
China’s success was “really important for us,” he added. “Russia and China, like most countries of the world, share the desire for equal, mutually beneficial cooperation in order to achieve universal sustainable and long-term economic progress and social well-being, while respecting the diversity of civilization and the right of each state to its own development model.”
BRI Operations and Goals
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a Chinese infrastructure development strategy that aims to connect Asia, Africa, and Europe through land and maritime networks. The BRI was launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping. The planned completion date is 2049. The BRI includes the Silk Road Economic Belt for the land part and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road for the naval part. The BRI has invested in more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations.
The BRI’s goals include:
The BRI’s five major goals are: Policy coordination, Facilities connectivity, Unimpeded trade, Financial integration, People-to-people bond.
- Improving regional integration
- Increasing trade
- Stimulating economic growth
- Building connectivity and cooperation across six main economic corridors
- Creating jobs
- Lifting people out of poverty
The BRI involves China financing billions of dollars of investment in roads, railways, and other infrastructure across Eurasia and Africa. China claims the BRI has created 420,000 jobs and lifted 40 million people out of poverty.
The BRI is also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR). It involves investing in more than 150 countries and international organizations.
Some countries that are part of the BRI include: Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Burundi.
Criticism of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
The United States has criticized the BRI, with President Biden calling it a “debt and noose agreement”. The US opposition to the BRI is commonly understood as a competition between the two powers for economic advantage and international influence. The European Union and the United States have their own development schemes, known as B3W “Build Back Better” and “Globally Connected Europe”.
The BRI has been controversial since its inception. Some of the opposition to the BRI includes:
- India has strongly opposed the BRI, particularly the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). India sees the BRI as a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
- Debt crises: Some countries that have experienced debt crises have opposed the BRI.
- Corruption: A survey found that 35% of BRI projects were struggling with corruption, labor violations, environmental pollution, and public protests.
- Predatory lending: The BRI has been surrounded by controversies, including alleged predatory lending and crippling debt.
Some analysts see the BRI as a disturbing expansion of Chinese power. US military leaders have sharply criticized the BRI. Former defense secretary Jim Mattis said, “In a globalized world, there are many belts and many roads, and no one nation should put itself into a position of dictating ‘one belt, one road’”.
The US has been critical of the BRI for almost a decade. The US has been using investments, loan programs, public-private partnerships, and technical assistance to counter the BRI. The Biden-Harris administration announced an infrastructure financing mechanism for low- and middle-income countries. The US also plans to invest in five to 10 large infrastructure projects around the world.
The US wants to pressure China to change its BRI practices and provide an alternative that promotes sustainable infrastructure and high environmental and anticorruption standards. The US and its partners revealed an economic corridor linking India, the Middle East, and Europe.