One Belt One Road
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also known as the One Belt One Road (OBOR) (Chinese: 一带一路) or the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road (Chinese: 丝绸之路经济带和21世纪海上丝绸之路), is a development strategy adopted by the Chinese government involving infrastructure development and investments in countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. It was original announced by the Chairman of the People Republic of China Xi Jinping during his official visit to Indonesia and Kazakhstan in 2013. “Belt” refers to the overland routes for road and rail transportation, called “the Silk Road Economic Belt”; whereas “road” refers to the sea routes, or the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Until 2016, the initiative was officially known in English as the One Belt and One Road initiative.
Vision and Scope
The initiative was unveiled by Chinese President Xi Jinping in September and October 2013 during visits to Kazakhstan and Indonesia, and was thereafter promoted by Premier Li Keqiang during state visits to Asia and Europe. The initial focus has been infrastructure investment, education, construction materials, railway and highway, automobile, real estate, power grid, and iron and steel. Already, some estimates list the Belt and Road Initiative as one of the largest infrastructure and investment projects in history, covering more than 68 countries, including 65% of the world’s population and 40% of the global gross domestic productas of 2017.
The Belt and Road Initiative addresses an “infrastructure gap” and thus has potential to accelerate economic growth across the Asia Pacific area and Central and Eastern Europe: a report from the World Pensions Council (WPC) estimates that Asia, excluding China, requires up to US$900 billion of infrastructure investments per year over the next decade, mostly in debt instruments, 50% above current infrastructure spending rates. The gaping need for long term capital explains why many Asian and Eastern European heads of state “gladly expressed their interest to join this new international financial institution focusing solely on ‘real assets’ and infrastructure-driven economic growth”.
The Belt and Road Initiative is geographically structured along several land corridors, and the maritime silk road. Infrastructure corridors encompassing around 60 countries, primarily in Asia and Europe but also including Oceania and East Africa, will cost an estimated US$4–8 trillion. The initiative has been contrasted with the two US-centric trading arrangements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Silk Road Economic Belt
Essentially, the “belt” includes countries situated on the original Silk Road through Central Asia, West Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Apart from this zone, which is largely analogous to the historical Silk Road, another area that is said to be included in the extension of this “belt” is South Asia and Southeast Asia.
21st Century Maritime Silk Road
The Maritime Silk Road, also known as the “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” (21世纪海上丝绸之路) is the sea route corridors. It is a complementary initiative aimed at investing and fostering collaboration in Southeast Asia, Oceania, and North Africa, through several contiguous bodies of water: the South China Sea, the South Pacific Ocean, and the wider Indian Ocean area.
Ice Silk Road
In addition to the Maritime Silk Road, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping also urged the close cooperation between Russia and China to carry out the Northern Sea Route cooperation to realize an “Ice Silk Road” to foster development in the Arctic region. China COSCO Shipping Corp. has completed several trial trips on Arctic shipping routes and Chinese and Russian companies are seeking cooperation on oil and gas exploration in the area.
The super grid project aims to develop six ultra high voltage electricity grids across China, north-east Asia, Southeast Asia, south Asia, central Asia and west Asia. The wind power resources of central Asia would form one component of this grid.
In terms of international relations, from 2013 to 2018, more than 30 diplomatic relations between China and other countries that along the Belt and Road have improved markedly, which include Tajikistan, Hungary, Israel, Ethiopia, Madagascar and others。
On the economic front, trade and investment between China and the countries along the Belt and Road have been increasing. Relevant data show that the economic growth rate of countries along the route is faster than the overall economic growth rate of China.
In terms of infrastructure construction, China and the countries along the Belt and Road have carried out effective cooperation in ports, railways, highways, power stations, aviation and telecommunications. Improve the infrastructure of countries along the Belt and Road.